There’s been a lot of internet chatter for the past few months about a hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing, if we are to believe the internet chatter, was promised by the committee chair, Darrell Issa but has been cancelled, postponed, or by some other name has gone from a hope to nothing. By what is surely pure coincidence, a prominent member of one of the groups calling for and talking about the hearing was one of Representative Issa’s largest political donors this year. Perhaps it was due to the Committee’s busy schedule, investigating hot topics like “Reviewing Alternatives to Amtrak’s Annual Losses in Food and Beverage Service”
Oversight has held a number of hearings in the past on autism and vaccines. Most were in the old days, when Congressman Burton was pushing his agenda hard (but not his witnesses–he let Andrew Wakefield pass on a misleading response to a question of how his research was funded). Last year Congressman Issa (again after donations) held a hearing on the government’s response to the rise in autism prevalence. Congressman Issa then proceeded to not support autism or vaccine related legislation. Not that I’m cynical, mind you, but I don’t see the value behind all the work and donations to get a few YouTube videos of members of congress talking about a topic they aren’t going to really throw their support behind. Then again, I don’t see the point in trying to make a political movement out of a failed hypothesis (or two or three) and a shrinking base of support.
The autism communities could use the support of congress. We could use some legislation. If I may say so, I think we need support to re-authorize the Combatting Autism Act, which sunsets next year. We need support for the disability communities, like services. Do the parents (and the support for this hearing was from a subset of the autism parent community) involved with the hearing feel that, say, the schools have the money and tools they need? Do they feel that there’s adequate support for autistic adults? Probably not. But they throw their passion, their time and their money behind hearings which wouldn’t even result in a diffrence for their own focus on vaccines.
Congress has better things to do. Like gridlock. We parents have better things to do, like making congress stop gridlock long enough to make a difference in our kids’ lives.