What is the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease?
Congressional Caucuses are formed by Members of Congress to provide a forum for issues or legislative agendas. The Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease is made up of both Representatives and Senators who have coalesced in an effort to find better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
The Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease was created to increase awareness on Capitol Hill about Parkinson’s disease issues and as a means to keep Members of Congress and their staffs informed of the latest developments in Parkinson’s-related legislation and biomedical research. As leaders in the fight for a cure for Parkinson’s disease, members of the Caucus work together to support the policy needs of the Parkinson’s community. The efforts of the Caucus, in cooperation with the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), have included introducing Parkinson’s-specific legislation, supporting federal funding for Parkinson’s disease research, and championing other legislative priorities.
The origins of the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease extend back to 1999. In February 1999, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Fred Upton (R-MI), Lane Evans (D-IL), the late Joe Skeen (R-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Henry Waxman (D-CA), founded the Congressional Working Group on Parkinson’s Disease in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2003, led by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), the effort expanded across the Capitol to the Senate through the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease. In January 2007, the House Working Group, in a show of unity with their Senate colleagues, changed their name to the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease.
The Caucus is led by its Co-Chairs—Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Peter King (R-NY), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The Co-Chairs work year-round to promote issues that affect the Parkinson’s community.
With the estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease, many Members of Congress join the Congressional Caucus on Parkinson’s Disease to express their support for Parkinson’s disease issues to their constituents; others have personal connections to the disease. The 154 Representatives and Senators of the Caucus advocate for and support the needs of the Parkinson’s community in the hopes of finding better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s.