Last night, the House of Representatives unanimously approved two bipartisan bills co-authored by Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23), the National Pediatric Research Network Act (H.R. 6163) and the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act (H.R. 4124).
I'm very pleased these important bipartisan bills were approved by the House of Representatives. While partisanship may dominate the headlines, the passage of these bills is a great example of how we can get things done and work together to improve children's health and provide support for our veterans returning home. I am hopeful that both bills can be signed into law by the President before the end of the year," said Capps.
The first piece of legislation, the National Pediatric Research Network Act (H.R. 6163), was introduced with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) and would authorize the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to facilitate the creation of pediatric research consortia focused on pediatric diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The bipartisan bill was designed to help increase research and accelerate the development of clinical trials to treat rare pediatric diseases.
Capps added, "The National Pediatric Research Network Act would go a long way to increasing and improving research on children's illnesses--especially rare and complex diseases--and developing new treatments to fight them. Every parent's worst fear is that their child becomes sick, and we owe it to every parent in America to do what we can to fight childhood illnesses."
McMorris Rodgers said, "As the mom of a child with special needs, I am thrilled the House has passed our bill to increase pediatric disorder research and the quality of that research. Too often, research into pediatric disorders has lagged behind research into other medical conditions. The time has come to take pediatric research to the next level. Our bill will do that by creating research networks focused on pediatric diseases, giving new hope to the millions who suffer from those conditions and their families. I want to thank my House colleagues -- especially Rep. Capps and Chairman Upton -- and all of our friends in the disabilities community for working to get our bill passed through the House. We hope the Senate will join us and take action soon."
Bill Strong, Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Co-founder, added, "As parents of a child battling spinal muscular atrophy, my wife and I are grateful for the leadership and foresight of Rep. Lois Capps on the National Pediatric Research Network Act. This legislation will pave the way for groundbreaking research of SMA and other rare diseases and Capps' dedicated advocacy of children's causes played a major role in its momentous passage today."
Martha Slay, Co-founder, FightSMA, said, "FightSMA is thrilled to mark passage by the House of Representatives of the National Pediatric Research Network Act. We are immensely grateful for the leadership of Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Lois Capps in bringing us to this important milestone. By promoting collaborative pediatric clinical research across multiple institutions, this legislation will help to develop the clinical trials infrastructure for spinal muscular atrophy that FightSMA has championed over the past decade. Families across the nation who have been affected by SMA, the number one genetic killer of children under two, are thankful for the hope that this legislation gives them."
The second piece of legislation, the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act (H.R. 4124), was introduced with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-11) to assist states in streamlining their certification requirements for veterans with military medical training who want to continue their career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the civilian workforce.
Currently, many veteran military medics are required to take classes they have already completed to satisfy the civilian licensure system, needlessly delaying their entry into the civilian workforce. This bipartisan legislation would make the process more efficient and provide grants to states so they can streamline requirements for veterans with military medic training to become certified civilian EMTs. In doing so, returning veterans will not have to start over at square one in their training and could enter the civilian workforce much sooner.
Capps said, "Our military men and women receive some of the best technical training in emergency medicine -- and they prove their skills on the battlefield every day. When they return home, however, experienced military medics are often required to begin their training completely over at the most basic level to receive certification for civilian jobs. This unnecessarily keeps our veterans out of the workforce and withholds valuable medical personnel from our communities. Our legislation would go a long way toward eliminating this roadblock."
Kinzinger said, "Last month's jobs numbers highlight the continued difficulty our returning veterans face as they attempt to re-enter the civilian workforce. These men and women deserve all our efforts to identify and eliminate unnecessary hurdles to civilian employment, and I am proud that the House has acted on this bipartisan bill to streamline the civilian certification process for military EMTs. Commonsense legislation like this is an important step to quickly and effectively help our veterans as they transition from the battlefield back to civilian life."
Bradley Mora, a veteran enrolled at Santa Barbara City College said, "While serving abroad I had the opportunity to work with one of the finest medics I have ever met. "Doc' was a consummate professional, a capable medic, and incredibly dedicated to his craft. As an infantry NCO I cannot begin to describe how much confidence my soldiers garnered from these traits. It is a certain kind of man and woman that become these servants of servants, these care takers of warriors: soldiers, sailors, and marines alike. And yet they come back, after they have done their duty and ask to serve again, to bring their skills and dedication back to their field to serve on a larger scale. I am thankful that both their skills and sacrifices are being recognized and being more efficiently put to good use. I can promise you that you will not be in better hands."
Both bills have been sent to the Senate where they are awaiting further action.