Speech ● Health Care
For Immediate Release: 
September 29, 2020
Contact Info: 
Annaliese Davis 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this afternoon in support of H.R. 2468, the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act. This legislation, which Leader Hoyer sponsored along with Congressman Phil Roe (TN-01), would encourage schools to implement management plans in order to be prepared to help students identify and control their asthma and allergies and reduce absenteeism. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
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“I thank my friend, the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee [Frank Pallone], and Mr. [Greg] Walden, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, for bringing this bill to the Floor. But most of all, I want to thank my friend, Phil Roe - Dr. Roe – from Tennessee, a medical doctor. He and I, as Mr. Walden pointed out, for many, many years have been focused on making sure that those children with asthma are safer in the school than they otherwise would be, if the schools were not prepared to deal with an asthmatic or allergic attack. I want to thank Dr. Roe, who has been such a steadfast ally and partner in this effort. I’m hopeful that this bill will go to the Senate and when we come back in the lame duck, hopefully we'll pass this. And we will have another bipartisan bill that will help the children, and the school systems, of America.

“I’m proud to be joined by Dr. Roe. It is emblematic, when you have a problem that is needed to be solved, it's not a partisan problem. These are not partisan issues. These are issues that kids have and families have, and schools. We stood together on this Floor seven years ago when the House passed our School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. President Obama signed that bipartisan bill into law in November 2013. It encouraged states to adopt policies that require schools to stock emergency epinephrine and train staff how to use it in case a student experiences a severe allergy attack. Those attacks can result in death. This is not just an inconvenience, this is just not an illness, it is a mortal challenge. And I’m proud that we got that bill done together, and we do again today the same.

“This new bipartisan legislation would build on that earlier success, as the Ranking Member and Chairman have already explained, by providing additional incentives for states to ensure that America’s schools create asthma management plans for students who need them. Not a difficult task, I would say. Not an expensive task, but a life-saving result. I know all too well how terrifying severe childhood asthma can be. I was diagnosed with asthma at age 4, when I went to the hospital in Texas. My father was stationed at a P.O.W. camp in Mexia, Texas, not too far from Galveston. So I know the consequences of asthma.

“In addition to that, my granddaughter has experienced severe food allergies. A peanut allergy, which is so much more evident today than it was, for whatever reason and is life-threatening. I’ve been with my granddaughter twice in the emergency room and luckily she got there in time so that her life was not in danger. But had she not gotten there in a timely fashion, it would have been. Like many families, we constantly have to be vigilant and always keep asthma inhalers present. But my granddaughter always keeps an EpiPen, always with her. She's 18 years of age, she does not go anywhere without an EpiPen. And very frankly, my daughter, her mother, every school that she went to, counseled with the principal, with the teacher, and with the school personnel to let them know, A, that Alexa had that challenge, and, B, how to deal with it and how to help her deal with it.

“Having a plan to manage asthma and peanut allergies makes a critical difference. This legislation will help reduce school absenteeism for which asthma is one of the leading causes. I know that because as an elementary and junior high school student, I lost significant time because of asthma. Again I want to thank Dr. Roe for his leadership on this issue and for working with me on these bills over the years. He's retiring at the end of this Congress and I will certainly miss working with him. We will miss his expertise here in the Congress of the United States and I know the Energy and Commerce Committee will miss his advice and counsel as well. I believe that legislation like this, and the law we enacted in 2013, will be a fitting part of his legacy of public service.

“Madam Speaker, I hope that all of our colleagues will join us in supporting this legislation and thanking Dr. Roe for his efforts to ensure that protecting our nation's children against asthma consequences remains a truly bipartisan effort. And I yield back the balance of my time.”