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Mother Of Boy With Down Syndrome To Address Nation


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U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a son with Down syndrome, will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a son with Down syndrome, will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a son with Down syndrome, is set to present the Republican response to the president’s State of the Union address next week.

McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., serves as chair of the House Republican Conference and is the highest-ranking female Republican in Congress.

In tapping her to respond to President Barack Obama on Tuesday night, Republican party leaders hyped McMorris Rodgers’ role as a mom and signaled their desire to appeal to women.

“Through the lens of her family’s experiences, Cathy will share our vision for a better America built on a thriving middle class, guided by a fierce belief in life and liberty, and grounded in greater trust between citizens and their government,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, said in a statement announcing the selection. “We are grateful to Cathy for lending her voice and perspective to this national occasion.”

McMorris Rodgers has been vocal on disability issues since her son Cole, 6, was born with Down syndrome. She co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and has supported legislation to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s schools as well as bills to increase funding for Down syndrome research and to allow people with disabilities a way to save money without losing government benefits.

In a video that accompanied the announcement this week, McMorris Rodgers emphasized the impact that having a child with special needs has had on her.

“When Cole was born he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. That’s not the news that any parents prepare to hear,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I’m so grateful for Cole and his influence on my life. I’m a better legislator, I’m a better person because of Cole’s impact on my life. He gives me a whole new passion and certainly a new purpose for serving in Congress and I want to make sure I’m doing everything that I can to ensure the next generation has as many opportunities and more.”

In addition to Cole, McMorris Rodgers is also mom to Grace, 3, and Brynn, 2 months. She is the first person to give birth three times while serving in Congress.

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Comments (12 Responses)

  1. CC says:

    So, we expect her to relate to other parents of developmentally disabled children just like Sarah Palin did? This woman has the best insurance that we all pay for and makes more money that we will ever see in a lifetime so she never has to worry about what the parents in the real world worry about such as how can they pay for the assistance their child needs.

  2. catvocate says:

    I agree. It must be nice to have the best medical and other care in the world nevermind that lovely salary. She has no idea what it might be like to fight with school districts and government workers in order to get your child’s care and medical services or, as most of us know them as, scraps lots of ineffective scraps. Thousands of folks with ID sit in nursing homes and facilities, even children yet what could she know of this? The conservatives should adopt this motto for their own. I’VE GOT MINE HAHA!

  3. ocotillocandie says:

    Am I suppose to clap and look up to her? My daughter is 11 and has Down syndrome. She has a devastated disease called JIA, a form of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) as December 2013 the government took 90% of her disability pension call SSI. My spouse is disabled from war and has a very small service connected disability. Why is this huge discrepancy between both of us?

  4. Chris says:

    Wow, what a nasty couple of comments. Yes, you should be able to relate on some level if you have a child with a disability but I guess your political differences will keep you from doing so. I agree with all of her ideas. I would like for my child to be able to have some assets and not lose her future benefits. And ANY parent with a child with DS has dealt with their child’s schools. What a ridiculous thing for you to say that she doesn’t.

  5. Tamara says:

    I would like to know in what way she has supported the effort to limit restraint and seclusion practices. I don’t see her as a co-sponsor of HR 1893. Could you please clarify?

  6. Sonja L says:

    This party also pushes vouchers and through ALEC, has succeeded in getting some of these vile voucher laws in place. Claiming a student with disabilities will have better access to private schools, their voucher laws come with hidden restrictions that many families fail to realize until too late. If accepting the voucher, the family “waives” their rights under IDEA. What this means is that a family would no longer be able to have an IEP and receive DIS services for free through the public education system. The DIS services would become a personal financial burden upon the family. Vouchers would only pay for tuition, nothing more.

    GOP plans do not include our children. They’ve severely cut IDEA funding and the sequester has caused much damage. We’ve lost teachers and service providers. I see no help coming in the near future. It’s not what they say that you should listen to – it’s what they DO that you should witness and question.

  7. Leticia R says:

    I feel your pain as a single mom of four two with special needs 27 with cerebral palsy and 3 with down syndrome we can become bitter and judgemental we get so tire of fighting with the system I can totally understand and relate to what your saying however I am so glad to hear someone in goverment desires to make a change because they have a loved child with special needs I see an opportunity to voice and share or heart and Struggles Why Not Send Letters and pictures of our loved ones money will not replace the love, struggles and hope for your child with special needs yes life may be easier than it is for many of us. I hope we can become partners with someone like Cathy she’s first a mom and I hope we can help her understand what it’s like to walk in our shoes. My love for both of you I pray we continue to fight the good fight as we do in love and respect for each other as we support and raise wonderful children. I respect your frustration and anger I feel the same pain constantly I am left with the Hope to make a difference in who I am and in the lifes of my children. Thank you Cathy for stepping up in faith and I pray God gives you the knowledge and understanding of our struggles, may he give you the words that touch the heart of those who are making decisions for the life and future of our children’s and adult with special needs and do what’s right for our children.

  8. Patti Saylor says:

    Rep. Cathy MsMorris Rodfers is a true advocate. While her job provides for her children to have healthcare, her son and family will be subject to the same social stigma and societal discrimination as the rest of us. It is a good thing for the DS community to have representation in Congress. Issues facing our children and families are bi partisan issues.

  9. Lynda says:

    Y’all don’t make any sense. People need money to get elected to Congress. Do you want people elected with some understanding of disabilities or not? Condemning her because she works hard makes no sense. What do you want?

  10. Tim says:

    Aren’t many of you rushing to judgement? What ever happened to giving a person a fair chance? As a person with special needs, I am fankly alarmed and frightened by the outcry here against Mrs. McMorris Rogers. Dose anyone here have proof that she ever voted against the needs of anyone’s child??? Yes’ we all know American politics is full of corrupt people, but to slam someone so quickly is a bit unfair, isn’t it? What would we loose by looking at her individually, and not just “Another Republican”? Who here would like to be judged and dismissed because of their coworkers? Hands Anyone???

  11. vmgillen says:

    What the heck does Downs have to do with this?

  12. Sonja L says:

    What amazes me is her own party considers her “dumb as a bag of rocks.” She is the perfect example of a candidate “groomed” by special interest money to follow, without question and in lock-step with their directions. This is not the type of “leadership” or “representation” the disability community needs.

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