Monday, September 29, 2008

New Avenue for MS Research Secured in Defense Bill

Thanks to your help and activism, we are proud to announce that multiple sclerosis has been awarded a new $5 million research program within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). This is a tremendous victory and is the first time that MS has ever received its own line item for funding under the CDMRP.

The CDMRP is a program funded through the defense bill, which is currently attached to the Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed over the weekend. The final step is the signature of President Bush, who is expected to sign early this week.

This movement is an example of the power of advocacy and the influence of a grassroots campaign. MS activists worked to steer this issue in the right direction and had confidence in the bold request for millions of dollars to establish a new program. Every activist played an important role in gaining this new ground, whether it was being a voice at a congressional meeting during the Public Policy Conference, being featured in the media, headlining informational briefings on Capitol Hill, participating in local town hall forums, or even testifying before Congress.

The Society owes a great deal of thanks to the other organizations that helped petition Congress for this new research funding. Those joining us in advocating for the new funding included: American Academy of Neurology, Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal, AMVETs, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Disabled American Veterans.

Please join us in celebrating this enormous success. Without your dedication and participation, the establishment of a new avenue of research funding for MS would not be possible. Thank you for being one of our valuable MS activists.

It is important to acknowledge those legislators who made this new avenue of research funding for MS possible. Please take a moment to thank your Senators and/or Representative who may have supported this funding request either as a member of the Appropriations Committee or as a Dear Colleague signer.

Visit or for legislator contact information.

Check the list below to learn if your Senators or Representative signed onto the Dear Colleague letters requesting this funding:

Russ Carnahan (MO)
Michael Burgess, M.D. (TX)

Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Howard Berman (CA)
Leonard Boswell (IA)
Nancy Boyda (KS)
Lois Capps (CA)
Christopher Carney (PA)
Susan Davis (CA)
Bill Delahunt (MA)
Vernon Ehlers (MI)
Keith Ellison (MN)
Phil English (PA)
Bob Filner (CA)
Vito Fossella (NY)
Barney Frank (MA)
Virgil Goode (VA)
Bart Gordon (TN)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX)
Tim Holden (PA)
Hank Johnson (GA)
Patrick Kennedy (RI)
Peter King (NY)
Dennis Kucinich (OH)
James Langevin (RI)
Sander Levin (MI)
John Lewis (GA)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
Edward Markey (MA)
Jim Marshall (GA)
Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
Jim McDermott (WA)
Brad Miller (CA)
Harry Mitchell (AZ)
Dennis Moore (KS)
Tim Murphy (PA)
Bill Pascrell (NJ)
Ron Paul (TX)
Collin Peterson (MN)
Todd Russell Platts (PA)
Nick Rahall, II (WV)
Rick Renzi (AZ)
Thomas Reynolds (NY)
Peter Roskam (IL)
Bobby Rush (IL)
Linda Sanchez (CA)
Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Allyson Schwartz (PA)
David Scott (GA)
Pete Sessions (CA)
Christopher Shays (CT)
Louise Slaughter (NY)
Vic Snyder (AR)
John Tierney (MA)
Edolphus Towns (NY)
Fred Upton (MI)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL)
Henry Waxman (CA)
Peter Welch (VT)
Robert Wexler (FL)
Robert Wittman (VA)
David Wu (OR)
John Yarmuth (KY)
Sherrod Brown (OH)
Jim Bunning (KY)

Daniel Akaka (HI)
Joe Biden (DE)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Robert Casey (PA)
Norm Coleman (MN)
Susan Collins (ME)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Richard Durbin (IL)
Edward Kennedy (MA)
John Kerry (MA)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
Joe Lieberman (CT)
Robert Menendez (NJ)
Jack Reed (RI)
Bernard Sanders (VT)
Chuck Schumer (NY)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Arlen Specter (PA)
Debbie Stabenow (MI)
John Warner (VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Ron Wyden (OR)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Continuing Resolution Bids Time to Secure MS Research Funding under Defense Bill

The fate of multiple sclerosis research funding under the Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill could be determined shortly. Congress will likely pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) – legislation that will continue to fund the Federal government through early 2009 at current levels – later this week.

Congress has yet to pass any of the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY2009, which will begin on October 1. However, it is likely that they will attach the 2009 DoD appropriations bill to the CR.

This year, MS activists have been working to secure specific funding for MS research under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). The CDMRP is a program within the DoD and is funded annually through the defense appropriations bill. This means that there is still time to secure MS research funding under the CDMRP for FY2009.

Take action now by calling your legislator’s Washington, D.C. office to talk about this issue. Call the Capitol switchboard at 1-800-828-0498 to be connected or visit or for their contact information.

You can use these talking points and background when you speak with your Member of Congress:
  • MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system and is generally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, the prime of life. The cause of MS is still unknown, the symptoms are unpredictable, and there is no cure.
  • Preliminary evidence suggests that Gulf War veterans could have an increased risk of MS. I'd like to ask for your support for $15 million for MS research funding in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) to be included in the Continuing Resolution (CR).
  • More than 28,000 veterans being treated in the VHA are living with a diagnosis of MS. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology identified more than 5,000 cases of MS among U.S. veterans that were deemed "service-connected."
  • A study found an unexpected, doubling of MS between 1993 and 2000 in Kuwait, which suggests a potential environmental trigger for MS because of exposure to neurotoxins such as burning oil fields and poison gases.
  • The Department of Defense has an obligation to fund research for diseases related to military service. This research would benefit our veterans and would help move us closer to a world free of MS.

Friday, September 19, 2008

ADA Bill Headed to President's Desk

Disability rights and protections reached a new milestone when Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) on Wednesday, September 17. The bill is now awaiting the signature of President Bush.

Signed into law in 1990, the intent of the original ADA bill - to provide inclusion and equality in the workplace - has slowly disintegrated as protections have been repeatedly ignored due to narrow interpretations by the court. The strongly supported, bi-partisan ADAAA restores the original law with a more fair and broad definition of "disability," and ensures that individuals in need of protection under the law will not be shut out.

The ADAAA is of great benefit to the multiple sclerosis (MS) community, which experienced setbacks and barriers to protection under the original law due to misguided court decisions. People with MS and other chronic ailments had, in some cases, been denied ADA protection when courts overlooked the severity of their conditions because they were treatable by medicine or other measures. Today, the ADAAA will help ensure that there will no longer be discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace.

Learn more about the ADA bill at