Murkowski Joins Coons, Braun in Bipartisan Senate ALS Caucus
Continues Years-Long Effort to Support Those Living With ALS and Improve Research
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently joined U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN) as one of the original members of the first Senate Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Caucus. The ALS Caucus will bring together Senators from both sides of the aisle to work collaboratively to advocate on behalf of those living with ALS and their families.
“For years I’ve been working with advocates of those living with ALS, their families, support groups, healthcare professionals, and others, to better understand how we in Congress can support their community. I’m encouraged to see a bipartisan group with the common goal of fighting back against ALS,” said Senator Murkowski. “Little by little, progress has been made in understanding ALS, but there is so much more we can be doing. I look forward to working with Senators Coons and Braun to raise awareness, advance policies, and expand the network of support for those that have been and will be impacted by this cruel and unforgiving disease.”
“I’m inspired by the courage and grace of those suffering with ALS and their families and grateful for their engagement and advocacy to bring attention to this cruel disease,” said Senator Coons. “Congress can and should do more to help them. That’s why I’ve joined Senator Braun and Senator Murkowski in forming the first Senate ALS Caucus. Make no mistake, members of this caucus will be active, focused, and determined to bring attention to ALS, support individuals with ALS and their families, and fund research that seeks to uncover new treatments and ultimately a cure.”
“There are things we can do right now to help the thousands fighting for their lives every day against ALS,” said Senator Braun. “I’m proud to join Senator Chris Coons to create a Senate ALS Caucus to do everything we can to provide faster access to meaningful treatments and give hope to those struggling with this terrible disease.”
Earlier this week Senator Murkowski met with Steve Gleason, ALS patient, advocate, and retired NFL player, who this week received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his work through the Gleason Initiative supporting and advocating for those living with ALS and their families. This is the highest civilian honor given by Congress.
(Senator Murkowski and Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Steve Gleason.)
- As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murkowski helped secure funding in the FY2020 Defense Appropriations Bill in support of the ALS community, including $20 million to accelerate research into ALS causes, cures and therapies due to the VA determining that the presence of ALS in veterans is presumed to be service connected, as they are disproportionately affected by ALS. An additional $5.8 million was secured for telemedicine research as part of the Defense Health program.
- In December, 2019, Senator Murkowski joined Senator Coons in introducing the Justice for ALS Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure surviving spouses and families of veterans who die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) receive the full benefits they are owed.
- In November, 2019, during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee nomination hearing for Dr. Stephen M. Hahn to become the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Senator Murkowski raised the importance of patient partnerships when it comes to research and ensuring the voices of those living with ALS, as well as other patients dealing with terminal diseases, are heard by the FDA.
ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that destroys the body’s ability to control muscle movement. There is no effective treatment for the disease, no known cause, and currently no cure.