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Ban Asbestos in America Act 2007

Meso Foundation Lobbies US Senators, US Representatives, and US Senate and House Subcommittees

During the last several months, members of the Meso Foundation’s Board of Directors have had four opportunities to personally lobby in Washington, DC, on behalf of important legislative efforts regarding mesothelioma.

On February 8, Meso Foundation Board members and staff visited Capitol Hill, visiting their respective senators and meeting personally with US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The focus of the meetings was to stress the need for mesothelioma research, public awareness and a ban on asbestos in this country. Since then Meso Foundation Board members Dr. Harvey Pass and Susan Vento have testified before subcommittees regarding these important issues.

On March 1, Dr. Pass and Vento joined three others in testifying before the US Senate Employment and Workplace Subcommittee, chaired by Senators Murray and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). The purpose of the hearing was to take testimony on S. 742, legislation proposed by Sen. Murray which would ban asbestos in this country, require efforts to increase public awareness regarding the serious danger of asbestos exposure and fund medical research for asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma. Dr. Pass provided insights from the perspective of medical professionals with very specific information about issues related to causation, diagnosis, and treatment. Vento’s testimony was of a more personal nature, describing the diagnosis, treatment and death of her husband, Bruce, who died in October 2000 in his 12th term as a member of the US House of Representatives from Minnesota. She also noted several other mesothelioma patients, stressing that even limited, non-occupational exposure can and does cause illness and death.

Currently, there are 16 co-sponsors of S. 742. They are US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Robert Casey (D-PA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

If your US Senators are not listed above, please contact them and urge them so sign on as co-sponsors of S. 742. For the contact information for your US Senators, go to:
http://www.senate.gov/
For a sample email or letter, click here.
For recommended Do’s and Don’t’s in communicating with your Senators and Representatives, click here.

On the House side, US Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) is authoring the House companion to Sen. Murray’s bill. Congresswoman McCollum was elected to the seat previously held by the late Congressman Bruce Vento in 2000. She saw first-hand the tragic effects of mesothelioma and is passionate about this bill. The Meso Foundation is working with her and her staff to recruit co-sponsors for the House bill. We’ll provide an update on House co-sponsors in a few weeks.

 

Senator Murray, holding a picture of beloved Foundation volunteer Brian Harvey, who finally succumbed to meso in 2005, calls on Congress to ban asbestos and fund meso research before more lives are lost. On March 29, Vento testified before the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. The purpose of this hearing was for members to hear from representatives of various organizations requesting funding for their programs from the National Institute of Health. Vento’s testimony articulated the Meso Foundation’s goal of securing federal funding from NIH for
mesothelioma research into improved detection and treatment.

On May 16, Vento testified on the Meso Foundation’s behalf before the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, presided over by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HA). The purpose of this hearing was to hear from various organizations and agencies requesting federal funding of programs related to defense. Her testimony focused on the need for funding of the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program in the Department of Defense (DOD) budget appropriations for 2008. Mesothelioma would be included along with a number of diseases for possible research. See the ACTION ALERT for information on what you can do to assist!

Meso Foundation TO LOBBY CONGRESS IN OCTOBER
The Meso Foundation’s 2007 Symposium will be held in Washington, DC, October 4 - 6. On Thursday the 4th, patients, families, doctors, researchers, lawyers and other Meso Foundation supporters will have an opportunity to meet personally with their Senate and House Representatives on Capitol Hill to lobby in support of S. 742 and share their experience with mesothelioma.

The personal stories regarding mesothelioma and the devastating impact it has on patients and their families will provide Senators, Representatives and their staffs with an up-close, personal and very intimate sense of why federal action is critically needed. This is an opportunity for you to have a major impact and we hope you can be a part.

For more information on the Symposium, click here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

  • For Sen. Murray’s March 1, 2007, news release regarding her legislation and the hearing, please click here.
  • To read the summary of the bill, click here.
  • For more information about the bill, click here.
  • To read the testimony from the hearing, click here.
  • For Senator Murray’s opening statement, click here.
  • For the EPA’s asbestos webpage, click here.
  • For very detailed information and articles on asbestos from the U.S. Geological Survey, click here.