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Urging Increased Federal Funding For Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes Research

Rep. William J. Tauzin

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Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent for the immediate consideration of the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 36) urging increased Federal funding for juvenile (type 1) diabetes research.

The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Louisiana?

Rep. Gene Green

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Madam Speaker, reserving the right to object, I will not object; but I would ask the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Tauzin), the chairman of our full committee, to give an explanation of the bill.

Rep. William J. Tauzin

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Madam Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Rep. Gene Green

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I yield to the gentleman from Louisiana.

Rep. William J. Tauzin

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Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.

As the gentleman knows, at this time, more than 1 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children suddenly. It makes them insulin-dependent for life, and it carries a constant threat of life-threatening complications. Someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every hour. This devastating disease also afflicts adult populations.

Madam Speaker, I want to applaud the efforts of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green) to raise awareness about juvenile (type 1) diabetes and the need to find a cure for this disease.

I ask my colleagues to support this very worthwhile resolution.

(Mr. GREEN of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Rep. Gene Green

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Continuing my reservation of objection, Madam Speaker, I know the gentleman has been a long-time advocate for increasing funding for juvenile diabetes, and he has been recognized many times by the health care industry.

I think all of us have been touched by someone with diabetes. Throughout my life, I have met many courageous people who have struggled with this disease every day.

I want to especially mention the Balthazars. They are not only constituents, but live in my hometown of Houston. They had come to a town hall meeting a couple of years ago to tell me about the struggle their family faces with their son, Larry, who has juvenile diabetes.

Larry Balthazar was diagnosed with this horrible disease when he was 2 years old. He has no memory of life without insulin shots, blood glucose tests, hypoglycemia, or the fear of dreaded complications. He has never had the chance to live a carefree life that every child deserves. Instead, he is tied to a regimen of painful shots, finger pricks, and a strictly controlled diet, which is not a way to spend a childhood.

Unfortunately, Larry's childhood is no different than that of 1 million other Americans with juvenile diabetes. This serious disease restricts the ability of these people and their families to live normal lives. Instead, they are forced to give themselves multiple insulin injections each day, test their blood sugar frequently, and be prepared for the high and low blood sugars that ravage their bodies.

If their blood sugar is too high, they face the possibility of blindness, heart disease, stroke, nerve damage, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation.

With low blood sugar, people with diabetes suffer disease, dizziness, hunger, seizure, coma and even death. This disease forces its victims into a careful balancing act that is almost impossible to achieve. While this is all very sobering, we have never been closer to finding a cure for this horrible disease. Research in islet cell transplantation has shown great potential for individuals with diabetes and has already freed many people with diabetes from their syringes and their glucose meters. Stem cell research also holds incredible promise for recreating these cells that are destroyed by diabetes. Further advancement in this field almost certainly could cure juvenile diabetes forever. But like any other disease, these advancements will never be realized unless we invest the resources necessary to find a cure.

That is why myself and 127 other Members of the House have cosponsored and introduced H. Con. Res. 36, the important resolution to fully fund diabetes research, and urge this Congress to invest the amount recommended by the Diabetes Research Working Group.

The DRWG was appointed by the Congress in 1998 to develop a comprehensive plan for diabetes research.

The findings of this group were very compelling. They recommended several different approaches to finding a cure and improving treatments for diabetes.

But these recommendations are meaningless if they are not backed up by an increase in funding.

While there has been some increases in diabetes funding at the NIH, much more needs to be done. This year, diabetes will receive $769 million in funding at the NIH--only slightly more than half the amount recommended by the DRWG.

If we are serious about finding a cure for this serious disease, then we must make the necessary investment to find a cure.

H. Con. Res. 36 with 127 co-sponsors expresses the sense of Congress that federal funding for diabetes research should be increased in accordance with the recommendations of the Diabetes Research Working Group.

By passing this resolution on the floor today, we are reaffirming our commitment to win the battle against juvenile diabetes.

Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Colorado (Ms. DeGette), the cochair of the Diabetes Caucus.

(Ms. DeGETTE asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

Rep. Diana DeGette

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Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Green) for this wonderful concurrent resolution. As cochair of the Diabetes Caucus and the mother of an eight-year-old child with Type I diabetes, I rise in support of this legislation.

Madam Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak today about diabetes and the need to continue to fund research at a high level as this topic holds a great personal value to me.

Over one million people are juvenile diabetics. That number is increasing every day as 13,000 children a year--35 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and 17,000 adults a year--46 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetics.

Last June I was pleased to serve as Honorary Co-Chair of the 2001 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress, during which 200 children with juvenile diabetes came to Washington to advocate for juvenile diabetes research. While in Washington these children asked for our help to ensure that they will soon be free from the burden of finger pricks, insulin injections, hypoglycemia and the fear of complications such as nerve damage, heart attack, blindness and amputation. There is great reason to believe that this hope will be realized.

Researchers are closing in on a cure for this disease. As many of you are aware, clinical trials are underway involving the transplantation of insulin producing cells into individuals with juvenile diabetes. 80% of the patients who have received these transplants have been cured of juvenile diabetes and no longer need insulin injections. However, there are two obstacles to this research.

The first is that the recipients of the transplanted insulin-producing cells must undergo immunosuppressive therapy to prevent rejection of the cells. This problem is being addressed by the research of the NIH-funded Immune Tolerance Network, the goal of which is to develop a way to transplant organs and tissue, including islet cells, without subjecting the recipients to a lifetime of immunosuppressive therapy. The progress of this research would not only help children with juvenile diabetes, but also patients with a wide variety of autoimmune diseases and disorders, such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis.

The second obstacle is of greater concern to researchers. There is a serious shortage of cadaver pancreases from which the insulin producing cells must be derived for transplant. Less than 2000 pancreases are available each year for both whole organ transplants and the derivation of insulin producing cells for the experimental trails. Therefore, if and when these transplants are ready to be applied to everyone who suffers from juvenile diabetes, only a very small fraction will benefit.

Researchers are currently looking for alternate supplies of insulin producing cells. One of the most promising potential sources is embryonic stem cells. Researchers are demonstrating that embryonic stem cells can be turned into insulin producing cells, which could lead to a virtually unlimited supply for transplant into all patients with juvenile diabetes.

All Americans suffering from diabetes are in a race against time. Their future could hold deadly complications such as kidney failure, blindness, nerve, amputation and stroke. We owe it to those 17 million Americans--1 million, which are juvenile diabetics--to ensure that all promising avenues of diabetes research, are pursued with adequate resources.

Rep. Gene Green

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Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar).

(Mr. OBERSTAR asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Rep. James L. Oberstar

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Madam Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution.

Rep. Gene Green

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Madam Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

Rep. Judy Biggert

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Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Louisiana?

There was no objection.

The Clerk read the concurrent resolution, as follows:

Whereas over one million Americans suffer from juvenile (type 1) diabetes, a chronic, genetically determined, debilitating disease affecting every organ system; Whereas 13,000 children a year--35 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; Whereas 17,000 adults a year--46 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; Whereas juvenile diabetes is one of the most costly chronic diseases of childhood; Whereas insulin treats but does not cure this potentially deadly disease and does not prevent the complications of diabetes, which include blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, nerve damage, and amputations; and Whereas the Diabetes Research Working Group, a nonpartisan advisory board established to advise Congress, has called for an accelerated and expanded diabetes research program at the National Institutes of Health and has recommended an increase in Federal funding for diabetes research at the National Institutes of Health over each of the next five years: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Federal funding for diabetes research should be increased annually as recommended by the Diabetes Research Working Group so that a cure for juvenile diabetes can be found.

Rep. William J. Tauzin

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Madam Speaker, I offer an amendment to the text.

The Clerk read as follows:

Amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Mr. Tauzin: strike out all after the resolving clause and insert: Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Federal funding for diabetes research should be increased annually as recommended by the Diabetes Research Working Group so that a cure for juvenile diabetes can be found.

Mr. TAUZIN (during the reading). Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read and printed in the Record.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Louisiana?

There was no objection.

The question is on the amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Tauzin).

The amendment in the nature of a substitute was agreed to.

The concurrent resolution was agreed to.

Rep. William J. Tauzin

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Madam Speaker, I offer an amendment to the preamble.

The Clerk read as follows:

Amendment to the preamble offered by Mr. Tauzin: strike out the preamble and insert: Whereas over one million Americans suffer from juvenile (type 1) diabetes, a chronic, genetically determined, debilitating disease affecting every organ system; Whereas 13,000 children a year--35 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; Whereas 17,000 adults a year--46 each day--are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes; Whereas juvenile diabetes is one of the most costly chronic diseases of childhood; Whereas insulin treats but does not cure this potentially deadly disease and does not prevent the complications of diabetes, which include blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, nerve damage, and amputations; and Whereas the Diabetes Research Working Group, a nonpartisan advisory board established to advise Congress, has called for an accelerated and expanded diabetes research program at the National Institutes of Health and has recommended an increase in Federal funding for diabetes research at the National Institutes of Health over each of the next five years: Now, therefore, be it

Mr. TAUZIN (during the reading). Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the amendment to the preamble be considered as read and printed in the Record.

Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Louisiana?

There was no objection.

The question is on the amendment to the preamble offered by the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Tauzin).

The amendment to the preamble was agreed to.

The title of the concurrent resolution was amended so as to read: ``A concurrent resolution urging increased Federal funding for juvenile (type 1) diabetes research.''.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.