Dear fellow advocates-
Here at U2FP, we have good news and bad news. The bad news first-Yet again, the CDRPA did not pass into law. The good news? It came closer than we knew was possible, once upon a time. More good news, there is still a chance for passage; the fight is not yet over.
When we first started pushing for legislation to fund research for a cure for paralysis, we were rookies. In our innocence, we thought legislation was a pretty basic process. Introduce the bill and get it out of the committees that look it over. Get a majority of the House of Representatives to support it, and then repeat in the Senate. The President would sign it as a formality, and voila, we’d be ready for our next mission.
Since then, we’ve seen the CDRPA killed in committee. We’ve seen it pass committees and the House, to be held in the dead of the very last night. This session we learned that one Senator, Tom Coburn of OK, can hold 90 bills! We’ve seen tricks we never knew existed.
Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought the CDRPA together with 33 other bills to the Senate floor for a vote as the Advancing America’s Priorities Act, ironically known unofficially as the Coburn Omnibus Bill. Passage was a long shot, requiring 60% of the U.S. Senate to agree to postpone their August recess, as well as crucial debate on a desperately-needed energy policy.
In spite of a unforgettable display by Sen. Reid, the motion to bring the Coburn Omnibus up for a vote was defeated, 52-40. Sadly, the voting went almost straight down party lines. It was a tragic display of partisanship replacing thoughtful government.
And yet…Paralysis legislation was mentioned dozens of times. The sense that paralysis research is a priority was palpable. If the CDRPA had come to a vote on its own, it would have passed. This was stated publicly by several respected Senators.
Remember when the paralysis community seemed to be invisible? Those old days are behind us. We hope you’ll keep up the hard work of advocacy during the August recess, when your Senators are in your home state. There was misinformation spread during the Omnibus debates. Senator Coburn proclaimed the CDRPA to be a bill to put the Reeve name on some buildings. We need to get the correct information out there.
Don’t get distracted by minutiae. Investing in paralysis cures is fiscally responsible. Paralysis costs the US $14 billion per year. Paralysis research is closer then ever before to delivery of tangible curative therapies. Such therapies ultimately will significantly reduce the costs of paralysis in many more ways than monetary.
The CDRPA is not an appropriations bill. We’re not asking to increase the budget, we’re asking for a piece of the budget that already exists.
Click here to see if your Senator voted YES last week on the Coburn Omnibus, and supported you and the CDRPA. August is the time to show up in your Senator’s District office. If he stood up for you, thank him.
Remember Senator Reid’s words to his colleagues: “You go and see someone in a wheelchair, and you tell them: “I had the chance to do something about that, but I decided we would wait until next year. A year is not so important. You are only in a wheelchair for a limited period of time–perhaps your life.””
Look them in the eye. Make sure they get a good look at you. Tell them a paralysis cure IS a priority for you, or for your loved one, and you wonder why it’s not for them.
You have the right, maybe the obligation, to let them know you’re paying attention to this sort of thing. You might also contact Senator Tom Coburn’s office and ask why he held S. 1183, the CDRPA. A call to Senators Reid and Harkin, thanking them for their support, would be well placed. If you are concerned about the charade that led to this defeat, write a letter to your editor or get an article in your local paper.
It’s election year for many of these legislators. They’ll be paying attention. We pay them to represent us. It’s up to us to see that they do!
Your friends at Unite 2 Fight Paralysis