Advocacy Preparation for the New Year

Advocates on Capitol HillMesothelioma advocates took to Capitol Hill to meet with Representatives in March on Advocacy Day at the Meso Foundation's International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma.

After the big election, Capitol Hill is still a bustle trying to fill in the seats in President-elect Obama’s upcoming administration.  The new Obama-Biden government as well as the 111th Congress have their plates full with the challenges of stabilizing a faltering economy.  Luckily for us they will attempt these tasks while considering the overall health and safety in a more comprehensive and favorable way than the outgoing administration.  This means we will ideally have an easier time convincing Congress to finally pass the ban on asbestos and provide funding for meso research.

After the votes have been counted, the democrats obtained 59% of the seats in the Senate as well as 59% in the House of Representatives.  These numbers will help since the majority of our support for this important and life saving legislation is from the democrat party.  It is important for us to continue our efforts on this legislation from the start of the new Congressional Session.  There are many of us dedicated to the Foundation’s advocacy efforts and we can make the passage of this legislation a reality.

Many of you may be wondering how we can go about doing this, how will we participate, and ask where exactly does this legislation stand?  In order to stay focused and up to date on the happenings on Capitol Hill we will form an advocacy coalition of individuals who can meet by calling into a monthly phone call meeting held by the Foundation.  We will provide info on what is happening and will encourage your feedback and ideas.  This will help us stay organized and provide a way for all of us to gather together to fight for our cause.

As the offices are filled with new and returning elected officials, we will create new and continue to enhance old relationships with these individuals and their staff members.  We will inform Congress of the need to support research funding to find better treatments and a cure for meso by calling, writing and visiting their offices and will encourage our family, neighbors, friends and community groups to join our efforts.

At the moment Congress is inundated with details surrounding the economic crisis and will recess for the remainder of this Congressional Session within days.  The Representatives who have been working hard on this legislation in the House will continue their work in the new session, keeping the same language they’ve worked so hard to come to consensus on.  Once Representative Gene Green schedules this bill for mark-up in the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the funding provisions can be added before it is moved to the Full House of Representatives for vote.  After it passes the House vote, the Senate will need to pass this language or submit their changes and vote on the bill.  If the same language of the bill passes in the Senate, it will go to the President for signing.  If the language is changed and passed in the Senate, both Houses of Congress will go to conference the bills together before submitting the legislation to the President.

As you can see, the nature of our legislative body creates possible changes in this legislation’s path to becoming law, which means our eyes and ears must remain open while we work together to see the passing of this bill become a reality.  Together we can see this through!

Please email me at if you are interested in becoming a part of the advocacy coalition.  I will email all those interested about the details.  Otherwise, our advocacy actions will be displayed on the website Advocacy-Progress Report.

~Jeni Piccolo

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