As the 110th Congress concludes, we must take time to celebrate our successes. Thanks to your enthusiasm and action, MS activists helped make significant progress on some key MS issues including: increased research funding; improvements to the ADA; passage of the stem cell legislation; introduction of a National MS Disease Registry Act; and, the establishment of the Congressional MS Caucus.
$5 Million for MS Research Secured in Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
As a result of your dedicated activism, MS was awarded a $5 million program within the FY2009 Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). Many of you followed this piece of legislation as it made its way through Congress and, for the first time, the disease of MS received its own line item for research funding under the CDMRP. These dollars mark the beginning of new research possibilities.
Imperative to our success were our congressional champions on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, who supported this request and helped make the $5 million research funding possible. Also of key importance are the 63 Representatives and 27 Senators who signed the Dear Colleague letter urging appropriators to fulfill this request ( click here to find out which Members signed on ).
Please take a moment to thank your Representative and/or Senators, who either serve on the Appropriations Committee or signed the Dear Colleague letter.
You can thank these congressional leaders by calling their D.C. office. Call the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-828-0498 to be connected.
ADA Amendments Act of 2008 Becomes Law
MS activists worked passionately along side the disability community to help push the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) through Congress in 2008. President Bush signed this historic piece of legislation into law on September 25. The ADAAA will help ensure that there will no longer be discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace by restoring the original intent of the ADA as signed into law in 1990.
Progress and Continued Hope for Stem Cell Legislation
Stem cell research, a hot topic during the 110th Congress, will likely continue as another major issue in the 111th Congress. Because stem cells have the unique ability to develop into many different cell types in the body, they are of great value to scientists and researchers looking for new ways to help cure diseases.
The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3/S. 5) seeks to overturn the Administration's ban on federal funding for research on new embryonic stem cell lines and includes language to encourage the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pursue other forms of stem cell research. This legislation made notable progress during the first session of the 110th Congress. The bill passed on June 7, 2007 but was subsequently vetoed by President Bush, who now has twice vetoed stem cell legislation.
Introduced in April, the National MS Disease Registry Act (H.R. 5874) seeks to establish a National Multiple Sclerosis Registry at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, a national coordinated system to collect and analyze data on MS in the United States does not exist. This registry would help us gain a better understanding of the disease and potentially shed light on possible genetic or environmental risk factors for MS.
Launch and Success of Congressional MS Caucus
This year, the Congressional MS Caucus was formed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The MS Caucus enables congressional champions of this cause to work collectively in order to help further the issues of importance to the MS community. The MS caucus co-chairmen are Congressmen Russ Carnahan (MO) and Michael Burgess, M.D. (TX) and Senators Byron Dorgan (ND) and Orrin Hatch (UT).
House and Senate MS Caucus achievements from the first year include: hosting three issue briefings on Capitol Hill; public recognition of MS awareness on the House floor; and, overall support for issues propelled by your MS activism.
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