The narrative that nothing gets done in Washington saturates the media, as the does the narrative that bipartisanship is a thing of the past. Regardless of if you are a casual observer of political news or a news junkie, you might guess that everything that happens on Capitol Hill is all out political warfare, all of the time.
If so, you might be happy to learn that just since the beginning of 2020, bipartisan efforts in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are taking place that offer a real chance for significant movement in the area of ALS advocacy and ALS research.
This movement is in no small part because of the thousands of Americans who have signed up and become ALS Advocates. Because of the letters, emails and phone calls from these advocates, Representatives and Senators from both parties are becoming more invested in the ALS cause.
In the House, on February 7 Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Joe Courtney (D-CT), George Holding (R-NC), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Peter King (R-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) released a FY2021 ALS Appropriations “Dear Colleague” letter, asking their fellow members of congress to sign on to the ambitious goal of doubling funding for the Department of Defense ALS Research Program (ALSRP) from $20 to $40 million. Additionally, the letter advocates for continuing funding in the amount of $10 million for the CDC National ALS Registry.
Other members of Congress have until February 28 to sign on to the letter. As always, when members of Congress here from their constituents, it matters. You can find your Representative and their contact information here.
Over in the U.S. Senate, in January Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN) launched the first Senate ALS Caucus to better advocate for ALS patients and families and to support the fight for a cure. Earlier this month it was announced that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) would be a founding member of the Senate ALS Caucus. The House announced a similar caucus during the summer of 2019.
The bipartisan caucus will brings together Senators from both sides of the aisle who share a commitment to work collaboratively to advocate on behalf of ALS patients and their families. While their work is just beginning, their mission statement pledges to raise awareness, advance policies that improve the quality of life for ALS patients, and advocate for investments in ALS research.
“I’m proud to join my colleagues in starting this Senate caucus focused on helping individuals and families battling ALS,” said Durbin. “We have to maintain our bipartisan commitment to funding life-saving biomedical research that helps to find causes, treatments, and cures to the world’s most challenging diseases like ALS.”
As always, the winds on Capitol Hill are unpredictable, and no funding is secure until a bill becomes a law. However, these recent bipartisan efforts are yet another indication that the voices of those advocating for ALS funding are being heard by legislators from both parties across the country.