Idaho families struggling with debilitating diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or less common and rare illnesses, regularly share their heartbreaking, but also inspiring, personal experiences with me. These insights drive my longtime advocacy for necessary National Institute of Health funding to support medical research to save and improve lives. Each year, I join fellow senators in urging congressional appropriators to fully fund this critical research. This is one example of the countless ways essential input from Idahoans guides my efforts in the U.S. Senate.
Personal insights and experiences of fellow Idahoans are indispensable in best shaping federal policy. Thank you, to all those who have taken the time to attend the hundreds of town meetings I have held across Idaho, written, emailed, called, and scheduled time to meet with me in Idaho or Washington, D.C. Your input is extremely helpful in guiding my efforts in the Senate on your behalf. It helps me better understand how federal policies affect everyday life and assists with identifying needed change.
In a 2017 report, the Congressional Management Foundation assessed the degree of influence citizens have on congressional decision-making finding, despite the widespread belief that citizens’ voices are not heard in Congress, constituents sharing their views with lawmakers is very effective in shaping federal policy. The study was conducted over a more than 10-year period. Some of the report’s key findings include the following:
• “Direct constituent interactions have more influence on lawmakers’ decisions than other advocacy strategies.”
• “Congress places a high value on groups and citizens who have built relationships with the legislator and staff.”
• “Citizen advocates are more influential and contribute to better public policy when they provide personalized and local information to Congress.”
Please keep sharing your views with me. I am listening closely and value your viewpoints greatly. We may not always agree, as I have to weigh the positions of the entire constituency as best as possible. But, I am always listening and respect all points of view on the issues. Contact information can be accessed through my website at www.crapo.senate.gov.
Additionally, if you find yourself in need of help with a personal issue involving contacting a federal agency, I am happy to assist you. There may be times when emergencies arise, such as when a passport is needed to assist a family member who is ill in a foreign country, your company is having difficulty getting Medicare reimbursement, or some other unexpected event occurs requiring attention. If this happens, please contact the staff in one of my regional offices to discuss your situation, after which I will contact the agency on your behalf to assure you have been given every consideration available by law.
While I cannot direct a certain outcome, I can help communicate the circumstances and request the agency take appropriate actions to assist you. Additionally, due to jurisdictional constraints, I can only assist with federal agencies. Information regarding contact information, the required privacy release form and frequently asked questions, can be accessed through my website, at www.crapo.senate.gov.
The 2016 enactment of Trevor’s Law, named for cancer survivor Trevor Schaefer of Boise, proved again the power of one Idahoan. This law, which strengthens federal coordination in investigating potential cancer “clusters,” was enacted after Trevor shared his story with me, and he and his mother, Charlie Smith, and Susan Rosser proposed cancer cluster legislation. Every step of the way, Trevor stayed with the legislation and overcame many hurdles. Please keep letting me know your views on issues of importance to you so together we can continue to make important advancements such as these.
Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1999. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Independent-Enterprise.