Policy Focus

November 2010 Monthly Message
 
- New Clinical Trial Begins for Treatment of Parkinson's Disease
- Policy Focus
- A Natural Miracle, a Legal Morass, by Joel Havemann
- Highlights of Recent Parkinson's in the Media

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Lame-Duck Session

Congress is scheduled to return to Washington on November 15 for a lame-duck session following the recent mid-term elections.  In a lame-duck session, the current Congress returns for work in Washington following the election, but before the newly-elected Congress convenes early next year.  The session will be a two-to-three week sprint to finish legislative business before the end of the 111th Congress.  There are many pressing items on Congress’ agenda before the new Congress is seated next year.  Among these items are legislation ensuring funding for human embryonic stem cell research, finishing the annual appropriations bills (including funding for the newly created Cures Acceleration Network at the National Institutes of Health and maintaining $25 million for the Department of Defense Parkinson’s research program), and Senate passage of the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act.  While it remains too early to tell what exactly Congress will tackle during the lame-duck session, PAN remains active in working with Members of Congress and their staffs to ensure that the priorities of the Parkinson’s community are included on the agenda when Congress returns.

Please click here for a first look at what the Congressional changes from the election mean for the Parkinson’s community.

Stem Cells

The stem cell litigation continues to wend its way through the US court system. We had hoped that Congress would have taken up legislation to maintain federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research prior to leaving town in September, but unfortunately this urgent issue was pushed aside.  Absent a legislative fix, we cannot guarantee that federal funding for this important research will not be stopped by a misguided court ruling.  We are fearful that, in this complicated legislative year, Congress will not take up the issue during the lame-duck session.  Again, the voice of our community is needed to push Congress.  More details.

National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act

Coming off a huge victory in September with the House of Representatives passage of H.R. 1362, the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act, PAN wants to see the passage of S. 1273 in the Senate during the lame-duck session.  Unless the bill is passed and signed by the President this year, the legislation will need to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress and pushed through the House and Senate again next year.  It is imperative that your Senators hear from you about this legislation—S. 1273 is one of 420 bills awaiting action by the Senate.  Your voice makes an important difference in whether this legislation is signed into law this year.

Stay tuned for Action Alerts and PAN Web site updates as Congress comes back to work on November 15 and as the newly-elected Congress begins to take shape.