Over the past month, the Society has worked with champions on Capitol Hill to gather support for our 2012 priorities—funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program that supports family caregivers, and funding for MS research in the CDMRP. MS activists sent over 7,000 emails to Capitol Hill and visited over 370 offices on the Society’s annual Hill Day. This fantastic advocacy helped garner support from 155 members of the House of Representatives and 47 members of the Senate for a recommendation of at least $32 billion for the NIH in Fiscal Year 2013. In addition, 33 Representatives and 7 Senators agreed to support $5 million for the Lifespan Respite Care Program. And while the Senate CDMRP Dear Colleague is still circulating, 68 Representatives have already indicated their support for $10 million for MS research in the CDMRP. The Society thanks Sens. Casey and Burr and Reps. Bilbray, Markey, Langevin, Burgess and Carnahan for leading these efforts.
Congressional hearings on the budget have been and will continue to occur and some committees will soon start “marking up” appropriations bills. The House passed a budget resolution but it is not expected to advance in the Senate. In the past few years, Congress has not completed budget work by the intended deadline of October 1. Also, because it is an election year, odds of hitting that target are not high. The Society will continue to weigh in as the federal budget process continues to ensure that the voice of the MS community is heard.