House Congenital Heart Caucus
In February 2012, Congressman Gus Bilirakis introduced the Congressional Congenital Heart Caucus to communicate with members of the House of Representatives about the important issue of CHD. Congressman Bilirakis still chairs the Caucus which now has 38 members. We work closely with his office to share important information.
What is a caucus?
A caucus is a group of members of the House of Representatives who share some commonality. Members form caucuses to organize themselves, to build social ties, to disseminate information, and/or to coordinate and promote legislative agendas.
Why is it important?
A caucus is an important vehicle for disseminating information about congenital heart disease. Whether it is through email or a briefing, the caucus can share information with its members about research advances, updates on federal agency activities related to CHD, and key legislation that may impact people with congenital heart disease. It can also serve as an awareness tool, not only for our members of congress, but as they pass this vital information to their constituents. While a caucus is an organization for members of Congress, it is also an indicator of the strength of coalitions for the public at large. It is another symbol that we are being heard in Washington.
Who runs the Congenital Heart Caucus?
Currently, Congressman Bilirakis is the Chair of the caucus. In turn, we are able to work with the Congressman’s office to provide him with the information we feel is important to share.
Why is the Caucus only in the House?
The Senate is much smaller in number making general communication less difficult. The Senate primarily uses a mechanism to focus on a specific issue called a workgroup. However, based on the success of the caucus in the House, we will explore including the Senate, as well.
Is your representative not a member?
Invite your congressman/woman to join.
To contact Congressman Bilirakis’ office email Shayne.firstname.lastname@example.org
The Congenital Heart Caucus is an important vehicle for disseminating information and increasing support for CHD. Caucus members share information about research advances, updates on federal agency initiatives related to CHD and key legislation that impacts people with CHD. Members also pass information to their constituents, spreading the word. The Caucus is a strong indicator that we are being heard in Washington, DC.
Contact your representative and invite them to join the Caucus.
Use the sample letter
To find your representative’s contact information, go to www.house.gov, or for senator, www.senate.gov. Note: The Caucus is only in the House. You can contact your senators and ask them to support the CHD appropriations.
Use the sample letter adding your own personal touch--for example, the reason that you are interested in CHD.
Dear Congressman [Fill in name here], Today, there are over two and a half million people living with adult congenital heart disease. I am writing to urge you to support continued funding for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health for congenital heart disease. These funds will support much needed surveillance efforts and research to improve our understanding of congenital heart disease and develop better treatments for children and adults impacted by these often complex medical conditions. [Add short personal statement--your story or why this matters to you] Congenital heart disease is a leading cause of premature death, particularly in infants, but the population of survivors is growing. Advances in diagnosis and treatment are making it possible for more and more people to live longer and better. These individuals require lifelong care. We need better understanding of the causes of congenital heart disease, better access to specialized care and more support for the many emotional and social issues this community faces. You can help by joining the House Caucus on Congenital Heart Disease, chaired by Gus Bilirakis. Please vote in favor of funding requests to CDC and NIH. If you would like more information about congenital heart disease and its impact on your constituents, please contact email@example.com. Thank you, [insert your name]