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Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 1116) supporting the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of the resolution is as follows: H. Res. 1116

Whereas multiple sclerosis can impact men and women of all ages, races, and ethnicities; Whereas more than 400,000 Americans live with multiple sclerosis; Whereas approximately 2,500,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; Whereas every hour of every day, someone is newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; Whereas it is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 children and adolescents are living with multiple sclerosis; Whereas the exact cause of multiple sclerosis is still unknown; Whereas the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are unpredictable and vary from person to person; Whereas there is no laboratory test available that definitely defines a diagnosis for multiple sclerosis; Whereas multiple sclerosis is not genetic, contagious, or directly inherited, but studies show there are genetic factors that indicate certain individuals are susceptible to the disease; Whereas multiple sclerosis symptoms occur when an immune system attack affects the myelin in nerve fibers of the central nervous system, damaging or destroying it and replacing it with scar tissue, thereby interfering with or preventing the transmission of nerve signals; Whereas in rare cases multiple sclerosis is so progressive it is fatal; Whereas there is no known cure for multiple sclerosis; Whereas the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, an affiliation of multiple sclerosis organizations dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life for all those affected by multiple sclerosis, recognizes, and celebrates Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week; Whereas the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition's mission is to increase opportunities for cooperation and provide greater opportunity to leverage the effective use of resources for the benefit of the multiple sclerosis community; Whereas the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition recognizes and celebrates Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week during 1 week in March every calendar year; Whereas the goals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week are to invite people to join the movement to end multiple sclerosis, encourage everyone to do something to demonstrate their commitment to moving toward a world free of multiple sclerosis, and to acknowledge those who have dedicated their time and talent to help promote multiple sclerosis research and programs; and Whereas this year Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week is recognized during the week of March 8, 2010, through March 14, 2010: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives-- (1) supports the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week; (2) encourages the President to issue a proclamation in support of the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week; (3) encourages States, territories, possessions of the United States, and localities to support the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week by issuing proclamations designating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week; (4) encourages media organizations to participate in Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week and help educate the public about multiple sclerosis; (5) commends the efforts of the States, territories, and possessions of the United States who support the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week; (6) recognizes and reaffirms the Nation's commitment to combating multiple sclerosis by promoting awareness about its causes and risks and by promoting new education programs, supporting research, and expanding access to medical treatment; and (7) recognizes all people in the United States living with multiple sclerosis, expresses gratitude to their family members and friends who are a source of love and encouragement to them, and salutes the health care professionals and medical researchers who provide assistance to those so afflicted and continue to work to find cures and improve treatments.

Rep. Betty McCollum

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Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from California (Mrs. Capps) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material for the Record.

Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from California?

There was no objection.

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 1116, recognizing and supporting the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, which actually took place the week of March

Now, while Multiple Sclerosis Week occurred last month, it is never the wrong time to draw attention to this important health issue and to reaffirm our commitment to combating MS.

Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 400,000 people in the United States and 2\1/2\ million people worldwide. MS is thought to be an autoimmune disorder where the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy nerve fibers of the central nervous system. Symptoms that people with MS experience include blurred vision and blindness, tremors, extreme fatigue and paralysis. However, the exact causes of MS are unknown, and there is no known cure for this disease.

But what we all know is that it can affect men and women of all ages, and it does affect each person differently.

Many of us have our own personal stories of loved ones who've been diagnosed with MS. We will hear some of those stories today.

I've gotten to know some wonderful constituent advocates from my district to learn of their personal stories over the years through the MS Society chapter which I represent in my district, and I know that many of my colleagues have benefited from interactions with their local chapters and the members who have shared their stories with them.

So I want to commend my colleague, Representative Lee, for introducing this resolution. I also recognize Representative Carnahan and Representative Burgess for their leadership on the Congressional Multiple Sclerosis Caucus.

I urge my colleagues to support this resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess

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Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I thank the gentlelady from California (Mrs. Capps) for her recognition.

As cochairman of the Congressional MS Caucus, I rise today in support of House Resolution 1116, supporting the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week from March 8 through March 14. The goal of this annual event is to raise awareness of this disease for individuals and their families who are impacted by this illness.

Every hour in the United States, someone new is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Over 400,000 Americans are living with MS, and approximately 2\1/2\ million people are affected worldwide.

These patients suffer a variety of symptoms which can vary from person to person and, indeed, may vary within a particular patient during the course of the disease. Among the symptoms are impaired vision, muscle weakness, problems with coordination and balance, numbness, memory problems and, in the most severe cases, which, fortunately, is rare, the disease is fatal.

Even the milder cases of multiple sclerosis create daily changes for patients by impairing speech, the ability to write, the ability to walk. Despite the debilitating effects, the cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. There is yet no laboratory test that is available that definitively establishes the diagnosis and, of course, there is no cure.

Treatments, however, have improved markedly over the last 20 to 30 years, and that is the reason we should applaud the work of the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, an affiliation of MS organizations dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life for those affected by this disease, which recognizes and celebrates this special week that we designate as Multiple Sclerosis Week.

Many Americans know a person living with MS, a mother, father, son or daughter or another family member, or even a colleague. During my brief time in Congress a member of my staff has been diagnosed.

I also want to recognize those who struggle with multiple sclerosis every day, the family and friends who support them, the doctors, nurses, researchers and others that care for them and continue to search for a cure.

I'd also like to thank Representative Russ Carnahan of Missouri, who's the co-chair of the MS Caucus, and Representative Barbara Lee of California who are sponsoring this resolution with me.

I encourage all of my colleagues to vote in favor of the resolution.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield such time as she may consume to the Representative from California, Representative Lee, who is the author of this resolution.

Rep. Barbara Lee

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Madam Speaker, let me thank, first of all, my colleague, the gentlelady from California (Mrs. Capps), for yielding me the time. Also, let me just thank you for using your invaluable background as a nurse in helping shape quality health care for all in our country. So to Congresswoman Capps, thank you very much for your leadership.

Also, let me thank Congressman Russ Carnahan and Congressman Michael Burgess, the co-chairs of the Multiple Sclerosis Caucus and their staff, including my staff, Christos Tsenta, for helping to work on this resolution in a bipartisan manner and for keeping the Congress focused on MS issues, which was recognized during MS Awareness Week, March 8 through March 14.

Let me also thank Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Barton and their staff for agreeing to bring the resolution to the floor, along with our nearly 110 cosponsors. And to Congresswoman Kilroy, the gentlelady from Ohio, I just want to say to her that her determination and her strength is such an inspiration to all of us here in the House of Representatives.

Let me thank the Multiple Sclerosis Coalition, the National Ms Society and all its staff, especially Shawn O'Neail and Shawna Golden, for leading the charge on MS Awareness Week and for their work on this resolution and for helping to support activities around the country in recognition of this week.

And this resolution is in honor of all of those living with MS and all of the friends and family and loved ones who care for them and support them.

Lastly, I just want to thank my beloved sister, Mildred, for teaching me what it's like to live with multiple sclerosis. Mildred was diagnosed with MS at about the age of 26 or 27. She has been living a productive and fruitful life. She has learned about the treatments and medications; and, fortunately, she has had access to some of the best. But she wants everybody to have access to the types of treatment that she has had.

I asked her this morning what she'd like for me to say and she said, increase funding for research so we can find a cure.

She said to me, You know, it's so frustrating to go to the doctor, and for me to ask the doctor a question about the symptoms of my disease and the doctor says, I just don't know. She said at first she thought the doctors were just putting her off; but, actually, the doctors just don't know.

So this bill is for all of the times that she told me she gets up in the morning and wonders whether she'll be able to walk that day. This is for all of the times that she is in remission, dreading the next flare-up, wondering what is going to trigger the return of her symptoms.

So I'm pleased to be here today to talk about a disease that my family and hundreds of thousands of families around the Nation have faced. In fact, our first lady, Michelle Obama, her dad, Mr. Frasier Robinson, had multiple sclerosis, and so our first family clearly understands the need for increased awareness and outreach and resources to fight this disease.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. It's thought to be an autoimmune disorder where the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy nerve fibers of the central nervous system, interfering with transmission of nerve signals throughout the body.

There are over 400,000 people throughout the United States suffering from multiple sclerosis; and worldwide over 2.5 million cases have been diagnosed. But the real numbers of people living with MS are almost certainly higher.

Although MS is largely considered a disease that affects Caucasian populations, it does occur among African Americans and other minority groups and can be quite severe. Because people of color tend to have had less access to the health care system, which I'm confident now that our health care law will finally address, they may not get diagnosed at the rates that they should.

As has been said, Madam Speaker, MS Awareness Week was recognized this year from March 8 through March 14. The theme of this year was ``Move It!'' and it was intended to encourage people throughout the country to volunteer, raise funding, advocate, educate, and raise awareness about this disease.

This is the fifth year of MS Awareness Week, and over the past 5 years, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has received $30 million in donated corporate support, advertising space and public relations, and generated more than 120 billion media impressions.

In March alone, the MS Society recently received over 650,000 hits on their Web site from people who got active in the fight against MS. So the drumbeat is being heard loudly and clearly.

People living with MS were at the Today Show and Good Morning America and featured on 12 digital billboards which ran more than 700 times throughout the entire month of March in Times Square. The MS Coalition, the National MS Society, and the Congressional MS Caucus were also actively engaged in discussions about access to quality health care, increased MS research, disability rights, and MS issues and sought more funding for MS research.

This month, the Northern California Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society is also in the middle of holding its MS walk fundraisers. Our own MS walk in my district in Alameda County is actually scheduled for this Saturday. I'm also proud to say that a former person in my office, Alicia Barron, has been on the front lines of raising awareness about this disease through her work with the Lone Star Chapter of the MS Society in Houston, Texas. We appreciate her work and service.

While MS Awareness Week has passed, there is still a lot we must do. On May 26, MS societies throughout the world will band together on World Ms Day to increase awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the disease and the needs of people with MS and how to improve their quality of life.

As I've always said, our health is tied to the health of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, and we have to view anyone's problems, their problems, as our own problems; otherwise, we will never be truly rid of this disease. As Members of Congress, we have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that additional research funding is put towards diseases like multiple sclerosis. We need to invest more time and more efforts into finding the causes of MS to prevent it, to improve existing therapies for those who suffer with it, and I hope one day, as my sister said, just find a cure.

I'm pleased that the fiscal year 2010 Defense appropriations bill included $4.5 million to fund research into multiple sclerosis among our veterans. I look forward to making sure that we provide even more next year.

So, once again, I want to thank my colleagues for their support of the resolution. And in honor of all of those living with MS, I want to say we are committed to putting more money into research and to finding a cure. As my sister Mildred said, that is all we need to do.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess

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I reserve my time.

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to yield to our colleague from Missouri, Representative Carnahan, who is the cochair of the Multiple Sclerosis Caucus, such time as he may consume.

Rep. Russ Carnahan

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Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentlelady from California for her leadership and work on this important legislation, supporting the MS Awareness Week.

Every week, around 200 people are diagnosed in this country with MS; and, indeed, there's been a spike in diagnoses among our military. That is one of the reasons the past several years we have been able to fight for and obtain funding through the Department of Defense congressionally directed research program.

We also have worked with addressing the issue in terms of creating the national registry, so we can help track this difficult disease that has eluded a cure for so long.

I am proud to serve as cochair of the Congressional MS Caucus along with my colleague here today, Michael Burgess. He has been a good partner in promoting this. The MS Caucus is a bipartisan group of a 127 Members of this House actively engaged in discussions about access to quality health care, raising awareness, promoting education, and increasing MS research. I want to urge my colleagues here today to not just support this resolution, but if you're not already a member of the MS Caucus, I urge you to join us. I urge you to connect with your local chapters to help support the people that are living and suffering with MS, but also to help find that cure, to move research forward.

This year marks the fifth annual MS Awareness Week. The week was created by the MS Coalition and the National MS Society to raise national awareness about MS. I especially want to thank St. Louis' Gateway Chapter of the National MS Society for their unwavering dedication, for their help for people back in my home city, and for their support of my work here in the Congress. I'm grateful for their hard work to provide support and assistance for those living with and affected by MS.

This spring, in fact, more than 8,000 Missourians took part in the Walk MS event across the State, raising awareness and funds to help those living with MS every day, for the challenges they face from this disease.

Today, I want to again urge my colleagues to support this resolution to help create a world free of MS.

Rep. Michael C. Burgess

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I will yield myself my remaining time.

I want to thank Representative Carnahan for the recognition and echo his call to other Members of this Congress to join the MS Caucus. This caucus does real work. We provide information. We provide conference calls. We provide educational time with either Members or staff, and it is a worthwhile endeavor.

While there is no cure for multiple sclerosis as it stands today, the treatment has evolved significantly. In my 25 years of medical practice, I saw a significant evolution. Although I was not the primary caregiver for multiple sclerosis patients in my general OB-GYN practice, I did have many patients who did suffer from that illness and, as a consequence, over the course of my professional lifetime, did see the treatment evolve from one that was essentially palliative to one that was more targeted towards the disease itself or targeted towards the damages the disease inflicts upon the central nervous system.

So I do encourage both sides of the aisle to join this caucus. It is an important endeavor.

Again, I want to thank everyone who has participated today. We've heard today that multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease, but today, new treatments and advances in research are starting to give new hope to people affected by the disease, but more must be done to understand the course of this illness.

Most people with MS learn to cope. They learn to cope with the disease and to lead satisfactory, productive lives, but they do want answers. We recently capped off MS Week 2010 on March 8-14, and now prepare for World MS Day on May 26.

Texas, my home State, is getting into the act with the BP MS 150, which is a 180-mile journey from Houston to Austin. This event is a 2-day fundraising cycling ride organized by the Lone Star Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. That is the largest event of its kind in north Texas. This year's ride just took place this past weekend. In 2009, this event raised more than $17 million for research for MS, and the fundraising goal for this year is $18 million, with contributions still being tallied. But the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society is on its way to reaching this ambitious goal. And this was the 5th year of MS Awareness Week.

The Multiple Sclerosis Caucus is a bipartisan group of 127 Representatives and 23 Senators who are in full support of this resolution. But we can do more. In fact, we will be looking to have an MS briefing for Members and their staff sometime in June, and I hope many Members will be able to attend.

And, in addition, I urge everyone who supports this resolution to cosponsor H.R. 1362, to create a National MS Registry. This bill has over 150 cosponsors, and I urge my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee to take up this resolution because it is an important amount of work that needs to be done. And with all of the focus nowadays on genomic medicine, this registry is going to become increasingly important.

I yield back the remainder of my time.

Rep. Lois Capps

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Madam Speaker, as we conclude this discussion on the importance of being aware of multiple sclerosis and adoption of this resolution, I will call attention to my colleagues all of our local chapters throughout the country.

Our colleagues have highlighted some of the chapters they represent, and I know I've had wonderful interactions with the Members and people who support our local chapter in my district as they seek to raise awareness within our local communities and also work together to raise funds through their walks and through their fundraising drives to provide quality of life and support for their members, those who are afflicted with multiple sclerosis and their families, and it is an honor to serve with them and work with them and represent them here as they would have us do.

And what they would want us to underscore, as well, is the importance of our funding adequately the national endowments for the health, the efforts for continuing research, for accentuating the research in all neurological disorders, those that affect a whole host of ranges that impact people's lives; and among them, so important, are those who are afflicted with multiple sclerosis. That is surely what we can do on their behalf as we look forward to possibilities, as new discoveries are made, and much more research can be done in this arena.

So our resolution can bring all of that to fruition. I encourage all of our colleagues to honor and vote for House Resolution 1116, supporting the goals and ideals of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

I yield back my time.

The question is on the motion offered by the gentlewoman from California (Mrs. Capps) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 1116.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.