In today's Press & Argus, though, I read a letter to the editor that transcended politics. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer, the writer went to D.C. as a volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. She met with Mr. Rogers (and his health legislative assistant) to urge his support for H.R. 745, the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act.
This should have been a no-brainer for Mr. Rogers, who not only loves the emotional connection of a good story but has also been active in specific health care issues. Alas, it seems as though Mr. Rogers wasn't paying attention:
After many follow up e-mails and phone calls, Congressman Rogers has not yet co-sponsored the bill, and I thought his constituents might be interested in some of the legislation he has felt compelled to co-sponsor, as listed on his Web site:H.R. 745 was introduced by RogersPal Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and has 139 co-sponsors -- both Democrats and Republicans (including fellow GOP Michiganders Candice Miller & Thad McCotter).
H.R. 970: Expressing support for designation of June 30 as National Corvette Day.
H.R. 142: Expressing the sense of the Congress that there should be established a National Pet Week.
H.R. 225: Congratulating Tony Dungy, a native of Jackson, for leading the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI.
H.R. 1059: Congratulating the Adrian College Bulldogs men's hockey team for winning the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season title and postseason tournament and for having the best five-year win-loss record in Division III.HR 325: Commending the Michigan State University Spartans men's hockey team for their victory in the 2007 NCAA championships.
Mr. Rogers has worked with Ms. Eshoo on many occasions, including a bill to block a decision by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to control coverage of a specific drug used to treat anemia in cancer patients. To clarify, this bill was actually a Congressional Review Act joint resolution, "a rarely used mechanism for overturning executive branch regulations."
Clearly, Mr. Rogers isn't afraid to micromanage. So why no support for H.R. 745?
Is it because Mr. Rogers has avoided pretty much any sort of legislative effort this term? (He has been rather busy with GOP fundraising and party discipline, though.)
Is the bill just some pork-packed government spending spree?
Among other things, H.R. 745 would require the Secretary of HHS to develop an interdisciplinary committee to establish research objectives, provide a strategic research plan, and evaluate NIH research grants. The bill would also require the NIH and CDC to create a communications toolkit for patients and their families. The Congressional Research Service summary has all the specifics.
The writer's pain and sorrow -- too familiar to all of us who have lost relatives and friends to cancer -- is joined by her frustration. She traveled to Washington as a citizen advocate, a volunteer who hopes to help other families fighting this deadly disease. Her "representative" still hasn't co-sponsored the bill, deciding for whatever reason that it wasn't worth the bother... unlike National Pet Week or National Corvette Day.
Now that her letter has made the local paper, though, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Rogers changes his tune.