The 112th Congress: Where are we?
Jennifer Sheridan, Director of Policy Development
Earlier this month, Congress returned from August recess with a short list of to-do items: make sure the government doesn’t shut-down at the end of the Fiscal Year (September 30) and get back home to campaign. In short order, the list was completed and Members are now back home in their states.
On September 22, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), which funds existing federal programs and agencies at a slightly increased level through March 27, 2013. By delaying appropriations decision-making until next year’s Congress, it is now left to the post-election “lame duck” session to address the looming problem of devastating across-the-board cuts (sequestration) that are set to take effect on January 2, 2013. These cuts will have a harmful impact on many government programs and activities important to the Parkinson’s community. For instance, the National Institutes of Health is facing a $2.5 billion cut! PAN advocates are actively working to educate Members of Congress and their communities about the potentially overwhelming impact of these across-the-board cuts on the Parkinson’s community. A great example of this work is an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star by Arizona Assistant State Director Michael Greenbaum that highlights the impact sequestration could have on biomedical research in Arizona.
After the election, Congress will return to a long list of items to tackle in the “lame duck” session. With a limited amount of time to get bills passed before the end of the 112th Congress, many important pieces of legislation, including the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act and the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act, will likely not see any Congressional action this year. As the year moves forward, PAN will be actively engaging with Members of Congress and their staff to ensure the voice of the Parkinson’s community is heard. Please watch for our advocacy alerts in the weeks ahead!