BIG NEWS came out of a rainy day in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Friday: Representative Fred Upon, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, committed to giving the Childhood Cancer STAR Act its day in committee -- with a real chance to reach a floor vote before the end of this legislative session.
Speaking at a candlelight vigil in Bronson Park put together by the group Cancer Families United, Rep. Upton told the crowd:
"This bipartisan bill that [Rep. Michael McCaul] introduced last year has more than 230 cosponsors* at this point - Republicans and Democrats - and I announced a little while ago that in fact we would move his bill to our Committee when we return [after the election]. It's called 'marking it up.' We're gonna mark that bill up and it's important that groups like this reach out to their Members of Congress all over the country, Republicans and Democrats, and say 'make sure you vote for this bill!' because if we get a big vote in Committee - like I think that we can because the homework has been done - that ought to serve as a real signal not only to the rest of the body, the rest of the Congress, but also to the Senate that this a bill that needs to get done before the year is out.
So if we can get 50 or 51 votes or so in our Committee - BINGO! - we'll get the attention of the leadership, we can get it scheduled on the Floor, and we can send a signal to the Senate that they should accept the work that we have done in the House."
*266 cosponsors as of October 4, 2016
It is important to note that with 53 members on this Committee, Rep. Upton is calling for an almost-unanimous vote to advance this bill. We've got a lot of work to do in the next month to ensure that when Congress returns after the election for their final weeks in session, this piece of legislation passes through Committee and then the House floor, so it can continue on to the Senate and the president's desk to be signed into law.
We're up for the challenge, but we can't do it without your loud voices over the coming weeks. If your Representative comes to a town near you for a campaign event, be sure to attend and ask them about the STAR Act!
And be sure to double-check the co-sponsor map on our STAR Act alert page: A red phone icon means your Member is on the Energy & Commerce Committee and not yet a co-sponsor. We really need their support!