Advocacy

Ask your local Representatives to join the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus

What is a congressional caucus? 

Michelle Sie Whitten with Congressman and Down Syndrome Chair Pete Sessions

Michelle Sie Whitten with Congressman and Down Syndrome Chair Pete Sessions

A congressional caucus is a group formed as a “caucus” by members of the United States Congress that pursues common legislative objectives. Caucuses are formally created as Congressional Member Organizations (CMOs) through the US House of Representatives and governed under their rules. Some organizations do not use “caucus” when describing their group, although it has the same or similar meaning; other titles used are coalition, task force, study group, or working group. There are many types of caucuses that focus on countless issues, such as the Congressional Black Caucus, or even the Congressional Bike Caucus. The Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus is an interest group caucus, which is bipartisan (comprising both Democrats and Republicans) and unicameral (comprising only Representatives, not Senators). Other condition-related organizations with congressional caucuses are theCongressional Diabetes Caucus, the Congressional Disabilities Caucus, the Coalition for Autism Research and Education, and The Bipartisan Task Force on Alzheimer’s  Disease.

Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus

In early May 2008, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) established the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, along with co-chairs Representative Pete Sessions (TX-32), former Representative Patrick Kennedy, andRepresentative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) to educate members of Congress and their staff about Down syndrome.

To date, the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus has more than 40 members. Also, soon after Representative Patrick Kennedy retired, the Caucus welcomed a new co-chair, Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-08). The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is deeply grateful to our past and present co-chairs and members for making such a difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome, their families and communities.

Today, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation is excited about the progress the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus has made. The Caucus has elevated the awareness around the potential of people with Down syndrome. It has also brought to light the shocking disparity of funding for people with Down syndrome from the National Institutes of Health.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation, headquartered in Colorado, is proud to have 100% of its Colorado members signed on as members of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Now our goal is to inspire and motivate people to contact their Representatives and aim for ALL US members to sign up!

Global Down Syndrome Foundation Can Help

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation works closely with the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus in order to provide information on which Representatives are, or are not, part of the Caucus. Click here to find out if your Representatives have joined the Caucus, and if not, encourage them to do so.

In addition to ensuring your Representatives are on the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation encourages you to meet directly with your Representatives and Senators to tell your personal story. Self-advocates and their families are the most compelling people to inspire change.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is working to create a congressional toolkit to brief you on congressional members in every state. This toolkit will help you draft your letters and prepare for your personal visits as regards the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and issues that would benefit people with Down syndrome.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation has created toolkits for Nebraska, Tennessee, and Texas. Stay tuned for additional toolkits for your state.

If you would like assistance in setting up a meeting with your Representatives or have any questions about the main legislative issues facing people with Down syndrome, please contact us at advocacy@globaldownsyndrome.org or 303-468-6677.