Fellow veterinarians and congressmen Kurt Schrader, DVM, and Ted Yoho, DVM, have formed the Veterinary Medicine Caucus, the first such group in the 224-year history of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Reps. Schrader and Yoho invited the other 433 House members to join the caucus, saying the bipartisan aim is to “increase awareness of the importance of veterinary medicine on research, public health, animal health and welfare, food safety and our overall economy.”
The caucus also will draft legislation and conduct briefings and hearings.
On the heels of the March 6 announcement, Schrader, D-Ore., introduced HR1125, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. The legislation, if approved, would provide a federal income tax exemption for financial awards granted under the program.
Eligible veterinarians receive up to $25,000 a year toward qualified educational loans if they agree to serve three years in a designated veterinarian-shortage area.
Schrader, serving his third term in Congress, praised Yoho, calling him someone “who understands and shares the priorities of the veterinary community.”
“Together, I hope we can use our unique experience and perspective in the field of veterinary medicine to educate and engage our fellow members of Congress,” Schrader added.
Yoho, R-Fla., is beginning his first term in Congress.
“This caucus will be a great way to spread the word among legislators and other decision makers who have the power and influence to make a difference,” Yoho said. “I look forward to championing common-sense legislation that benefits both the veterinary profession and our nation.”
Andrew Maccabe, DVM, MPH, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, approved of the caucus.
“This is an historic and exciting development for a profession that touches the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans every day,” Dr. Maccabe said. “We intend to work closely with the caucus…to advance the interests of veterinary medicine and raise awareness of the issues that affect us all.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association endorsed the effort as well, said Mark Lutschaunig, VMD, director of the group's governmental division.
“Not only were we pleased with two veterinarians as part of the 113th Congress,” he said, “but we are excited to see how they are using their expertise…to advance legislation that is important to the veterinary profession.”