Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus


Launch of Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus From the Texas Insider

Washington, DC – U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) this week launched the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus with co-chairs Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-MA), Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

“As the father of a young man with Down syndrome, I have learned firsthand the endearing and valuable contributions that individuals with Down syndrome bring to their families and communities,” Sessions stated. “I am always inspired by their dedication and enthusiasm for life, and I have made disability advocacy and research among my top priorities in Congress.”

“I am pleased that the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus will champion their continued development through increased education opportunities, employment and savings options, and research to improve quality of life,” said Sessions.

The Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus is designed to educate Members of Congress and their staff about Down syndrome and to promote public policies that would enhance the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome, including through the following goals:

• To raise expectations and improve outcomes in education

• To remove barriers to economic opportunity in employment and in programs that promote savings and investment.

• To promote and fund research that accelerates the development of effective treatments and therapies.

• To promote inclusiveness for people with Down syndrome.

• To help provide family support services and a community of care model.

• To protect the rights of those with Down syndrome and make sure those rights are being enforced.

The Caucus will also promote the translation of Down syndrome research into effective new treatment through interdisciplinary cooperation among NIH Institutes, the FDA, the CDC and privately funded scientists and clinicians. Research support will also focus on broadening the understanding of related secondary disorders that affect significant numbers of individuals without Down syndrome, including Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and developmentally-associated cognitive impairment.

“We live in a nation that believes in providing all children with an equal chance to achieve, that every child deserves an equal chance to succeed,” said Congressman Patrick Kennedy. “Early identification leading to early intervention with behavioral services provides the best outcomes for kids. We especially want to see young adults with Down Syndrome be able to make the transition to young adulthood with integrated supports to protect their best potential and highest aspirations.”

“It’s important for parents with a developmentally disabled child to know that they are not alone,” stated Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “There are tremendous resources, support, and early intervention available to families. As a mother of a child with Down syndrome, those resources and support have been invaluable. I look forward to helping other parents make sure their children with Downs reach their full potential.”

In addition to congressional outreach, the Caucus will work with national and local Down syndrome advocacy groups to develop leading-edge initiatives that support individuals with Down syndrome.

“I look forward to working with Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus members to raise awareness of Down syndrome issues, support research, and expand opportunities for Down syndrome population” Sessions concluded.

In the U.S., over 350,000 individuals have Down syndrome, which is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46, and they are prone to health complications such as congenital heart defects, infection, respiratory, vision and hearing problems, and other medical conditions.