Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor this evening in support of H.R. 2094, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which he cosponsored with Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN). This legislation, which passed the House tonight, would encourage states to adopt policies that increase access to epinephrine in schools and authorize trained staff to administer it to protect students who are at risk of fatal anaphylaxis, a systemic allergic reaction. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
Click here to watch the video.
“I want to thank Dr. Burgess, and I want to thank Mr. Butterfield for their leadership on this bill, but I certainly want to thank my friend, Dr. Phil Roe, who has been a delight to work with. It’s taken us a little bit of time, but we stayed after it. We have stayed after it because, as Dr. Burgess and Judge Butterfield have observed, this will save lives. This will save the lives of children – this will save the lives of children who do not know that they have an allergy which is life threatening.
“I'm the grandfather of an eleven-year-old little girl. I have been with her twice in the emergency room when she was but an infant and when she was slightly older than an infant, and I want to tell my colleagues a story, Madam Speaker, about my daughter, who took Alexa to Disney World. They were walking down the pathway, one of the walkways at Disney World, and all of a sudden my granddaughter started wheezing heavily and having an allergic reaction. Now she is extraordinarily allergic to peanut butter and peanuts. But she'd had no peanut butter, she'd had no peanuts. As a matter of fact, this little girl was extraordinarily careful about what she ate. She comes to my house, she makes sure that I read the labels, and she reads the labels. She brings with her her Epi-Pen in the little case that is always with her.
“But as they were walking down that pathway, she started to wheeze heavily and they had no idea why. My daughter turned around, they retraced a few of their steps, and they saw popcorn being made – popcorn being made with peanut oil. And the mere breathing in of that peanut oil air caused her to start wheezing heavily. She didn't have anaphylactic shock at that point in time, she did not need to go to an emergency room at that time. But it shows how extraordinarily vulnerable people can be to these food allergies.
“And so I’m very pleased to stand here in support of this bill. I'm very pleased to stand here as a co-sponsor of this legislation with my friend, Dr. Roe, from Tennessee, and I want to thank him. I want to thank him for his work. I want to thank him as a doctor and as a Member of Congress – and as a parent. He shared my concern and we worked together. There were some difficulties to overcome, but he and I together, working with Fred Upton – I want to thank Fred Upton and Henry Waxman, the Chair and Ranking Members of the Committee, as well as Mr. Butterfield and Dr. Burgess for their help.
“They have both said - and I'm sure Dr. Roe will say - this will save lives. It's not a mandate, but it is a suggestion, it is an urging, to make sure that, given the fact that we have life-saving capability, that that capability be deployed and be present so that no child will have to die because of a reaction to one of these allergies. So I thank them again, and I yield back the balance of my time and thank my friend for yeilding.”