According to IFFGD and the official Congressional legislative database Congress.gov, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) signed on earlier this month as a co-sponsor of the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2017.
Representative Moore is serving her seventh term term in the House of Representatives. Her district, the 4th Congressional District of Wisconsin includes Milwaukee and much of the surrounding area. According to her official House website, Representative Moore is currently a member of the House Committee on Budget, and also has a record of supporting concerns related to health, veterans and women. As discussed previously on this blog, veterans and service members deployed in the Persian Gulf region have been shown to be disproportionately affected by functional gastrointestinal disorders, of which IBS is the most common. Approximately two-thirds of adults with IBS are female. Representative Moore was also a co-sponsor of the previous versions of this legislation, HR 2239, in the 112th Congress (2011-2012), HR 842 in the 113th Congress (2013-2014) and HR 2311 in the 114th Congress (2015-2016) which did not pass. IBS Impact thanks her for her long support of the functional gastrointestinal disorders community for four consecutive Congresses since the inception of the legislative effort for this Act.
In officially supporting HR 1187, Representative Moore joins Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5), who is the initial sponsor, and co-sponsors, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2), Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20) Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3), and Ron Kind (D-WI-3) If you are a constituent of any of these legislators, please take a few minutes to call, write, or contact him or her on social media to thank him or her for his support of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.
U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 1187, please see the previous post from March 21, 2017 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so. Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention. Keep in mind that your Representative may be different from before because of the 2016 elections, district boundaries that may have been re-drawn, or if you have moved.
Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.
HR 1187 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact, is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 1187.
NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.
It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 1187 will not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 218 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 115th, the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2018. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 1187 has not passed by that time, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering co-sponsors anew. This is what occurred with HR 2239 in 2012, HR 842 in 2014 and HR 2311 in 2016. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.
Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for further updates on HR 1187 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.