CW: The following week we were convinced it was dead. Then the following week we were optimistic again. Then wouldn’t you know, ultimately it passed.
What it came down to was the Senate passed the Food Safety Bill, so the Senate passed FAAMA. But then there was a procedural technical glitch so it had to go back to the House but because of this procedural glitch, the Senate passing it was sort of nullified. It was almost like we had to go back to square one.
But what happened was the folks in the House found a way to sort of override the glitch, which we were very grateful for.
GS: When did you finally realize FAAMA would pass?
CW: The day I knew when it passed was the day the House passed it. [Just before Christmas.] I can remember watching it on C-SPAN, watching the House vote and seeing the tally on the bottom of the TV screen. And when it passed, it was great.
GS: After all that work .…
CW: Yes, the man-hours that went into this. You’re talking three Kids’ Congress events, with about 100 families at each event on Capitol Hill. You think of all the mailings we did, asking people to contact their member of Congress. You think about all the times we mentioned it in FAAN newsletters, you think about the hundreds of phone calls and e-mails we’ve gotten. You know, it’s staggering to think about how much effort went into this.
GS: How many people wrote in support of FAAMA?
CW: People who wrote to either a member of Congress and/or FAAN? I’d have to say tens of thousands.
GS: Anything else you want to say about FAAMA?
CW: I just want to thank everyone that helped. I mean, we could not have done this without the food allergy community across the U.S. and these tens of thousands of families. We could not have done it without them.
I’m also thinking about the Kids’ Congress meetings. I can recall vividly being in the office of a member of Congress and sitting with a family with a child – a little boy who’s about 7 years old. Seeing the child speak and the member of Congress sincerely interested in what the child was saying.
It’s kind of romantic in a way. You can be as critical as you want of government and the legislative process – but in the end, a constituent talks to the person who represents them. That really is how it works.