By Becca O’Connor, PAN Director of Government Relations
Earlier this month, millions of Americans voted and elected a Congress that will greatly resemble its predecessor. The 113th Congress, slated to begin in January, won’t look all that different from the 112th Congress. Republicans will hold the majority in the House, with a total of 234 seats. Democrats will continue to hold a narrow majority in the Senate, with 55 seats (including Independent Senators who caucus with Senate Democrats). For profiles of the newest Members of Congress, click here .
Regardless of where you stand on the litany of issues that propelled individuals to the polls, the Parkinson’s community is dedicated to a common goal: advocating for better treatments and a cure.
With just a few weeks to go before the end of the year, the current Congress is meeting in a “lame-duck” session (the time between the November 6 election and the beginning of the new Congress in 2013). All eyes are on discussions regarding the looming “fiscal cliff ” – a combination of spending cuts, new taxes, and expiring tax breaks – and our community’s voice is needed more than ever in the effort to protect research funding. In particular, we’re concerned about the spending cuts, also known as sequestration , that will go into effect on January 2 and slash $2.5 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and cut 33,000 biomedical research-related jobs across the country. House and Senate leaders have met with President Obama, but no agreement has yet been reached on how to avoid sequestration.
On November 14, PAN advocates, together with thousands of other research proponents, took to the phones and told Congress to support “cures, not cuts.” Capitol Hill was reportedly overwhelmed by calls. With just 34 days before NIH’s budget is cut and tens of thousands of jobs are lost, we urge you to keep the pressure on by contacting your Members of Congress  and asking them to prioritize NIH research funding. PAN will continue to send timely alerts and updates as decisions are made and votes are scheduled. I ask each of you to respond to those Action Alerts and forward them to your friends, family members, colleagues, and others – our voices need to be heard .
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