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On behalf of FreedomWorks activists nationwide, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to vote YES on the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina, S. 204, introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). This bill would allow terminally ill patients to have access to potentially life-saving drugs when no other alternatives exist. It would ensure Americans, currently hampered by the bureaucracy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have the most fundamental right of all: to fight to save their own lives.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process is long and costly, and patients who need access to experimental drugs don’t have time to wait on a federal bureaucracy. The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act overturns federal law that currently prohibits the production and prescription of potentially lifesaving drugs that have already cleared the initial phase of the FDA’s approval process.
“Right to try” legislation has passed in an overwhelming majority of states, in swing states as well as Republican and Democratic stronghold states alike. In its passage at the state level, right to try legislation has received little to no opposition. At the federal level, the same was true last summer when the Senate passed S. 204 by unanimous consent -- that is, without one single objection. This policy represents a true consensus of the people and the compassion they share for their fellow Americans.
However, at the beginning of 2018 when President Trump gave his State of the Union address, he explicitly endorsed federal right to try. “We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives,” President Trump said. “People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘right to try.’”
Following this resounding endorsement for something so widely-approved of, Democrats brought out their obstructionist tendencies. When H.R. 5247, a similar measure that is less extensive than that which passed the Senate unanimously, was brought up on suspension in the House in early March, it failed to receive the two-thirds needed due to the disgraceful votes of 138 Democrats who opposed its passage. When brought up again under regular order, it received a larger number of Democrat no votes, but thankfully passed by a simple majority.
Now that two separate, but very similar, bills have passed both chambers, the House has agreed to take up the Senate version of the bill to provide for the simplest path forward to get right to try legislation onto the president’s desk and follow through on a key legislative priority. Passage of S. 204 is more than a legislative victory, however. It is a humanitarian issue and a compassionate policy that has the potential to save real lives. For the families affected by terminal illness of loved ones, this legislation quite literally means life or death.
As Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) spoke sheer truth on the House floor earlier this year about right to try. “If I were faced with one of these heart-rendering situations,” he said, “I would take any risk, including injecting monkey urine if that meant I could spend a few more days, months or years with my children.” Certainly, these Americans should be able to take the “risk” of accessing, at the approval of their doctor, drugs that have already cleared the first round of FDA safety tests. It is unfathomable how any could in good conscience deny this hope.
“There is no such thing as false hope,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a key leader on this issue, said in March. “You either have hope or you have no hope.” Americans deserve hope.
FreedomWorks will count the vote for the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act, S. 204, on our 2018 Congressional Scorecard. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks