U.S. Representative John Spratt confirmed today that he’s in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Spratt, who filed for re-election on Monday, told WRHI Radio in Rock Hill about the time he found out about the disease.
“I found out a couple of years ago. But the problems has been barely noticeable and barely been more than an inconvenience. I haven’t mentioned it until now, but I haven’t withheld any information about it. It’s just a minor problem that may get worst in time but doesn’t hender me at the time.”
Spratt adds he plans to continue to run for office and that he currently one pill a day for treatment.
(Press release from Spratt’s office; health details at end)
Congressman John Spratt has made it official: he filed yesterday for re-election. Spratt has represented the Fifth Congressional District of South Carolina since 1983. He has risen to be Chairman of the House Budget Committee and to rank next in seniority to the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Spratt was one of four in Congress who hammered out the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and moved the budget to balance for the first time in thirty years. He has just been appointed to the President’s Fiscal Commission, and cites this as “one key reason I want to keep serving.”
“Right now, the most troubling problem we face is the huge loss of jobs due to the recession,” says Spratt. “But as the economy recovers, we have to make sure that the deficits in our budget recover as well.”
When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, the budget was in surplus by $236 billion. When he left office in 2009, the budget was projected to be in deficit by $1.2 trillion. The Obama Administration has added to that by $300 to 400 billion with initiatives like the Recovery Act, which were necessary to keep the economy from collapsing.
“If you ask why I’m running again, I will give it to you in a nutshell,” said Spratt. “I want to see our country back at work and our budget back on track. That means making programs like Social Security and Medicare financially sound for as far as the eye can see.
“The Fiscal Commission will be an opportunity for members of Congress and non-members to look for solutions to our fiscal problems, and at the same time, look for common ground. The congressional leadership has given its assurance that the Commission’s proposals will be brought to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote.”
•that we can wipe out the deficit without wiping out programs that people depend upon.
•that the best way to make our entitlements more affordable is to make our people more productive by investing in everything from education to infrastructure.
•that right now the overriding goal is recovery of jobs lost in the recession.
Spratt voted for the Recovery Act, which funneled millions of dollars in relief to South Carolina. He also found a major omission in South Carolina’s administration of unemployment insurance. Within days of reporting the oversight, the General Assembly met and corrected the problem, allowing thousands of South Carolinians to collect extended unemployment benefits at federal expense and no cost to the state.
Spratt oversaw preparation of the budget resolution for this year, which paved the way for health care reform, but required that it be deficit-neutral.
Spratt stresses constituent service, saying, “I have chosen a staff with an eye to making service to my constituents second to none. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of folks get a fair shake out of the federal government. We have also helped governments throughout the district get their fair share of federal aid and grants.”
Among his achievements: settling the Catawba Indian land claim, rebuilding Shaw Air Force Base from stem to stern, and seeing that I-73 will come through the Pee Dee.
Spratt cited many smaller accomplishments, for example, securing funds for federally qualified health care centers from Rock Hill to Sumter, and in smaller towns like Ridgeway and Society Hill. Spratt calls constituent service and the projects back home “every bit as important as the role I play in Congress.”
Over the years, numerous groups have recognized John Spratt’s achievements:
•The American Legion awarded him its “Louisville Slugger” for going to bat for veterans.
•The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare awarded him boxing gloves for taking up their fight.
•The Disabled Americans honored him with the “Veterans First Award,” for funding the Veterans Health Care program.
•The South Carolina Association of Independent Colleges and the South Carolina Hospital Association each named him their “Legislator of the Year.”
•The Committee for Education Funding gave him the Natcher Award for Distinguished Public Service in raising funds for higher education.
•The Children’s Defense Fund saluted his “work and leadership” in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program, “making it possible for many of America’s young to get the healthy start they need.”
•The State newspaper endorsed him as “a bridge-builder who can reach across party lines.”
•National Journal featured him on its cover as a “stand out” and compared his legislative skills to the “best infielders in baseball.”
•The Sumter Item recognized him for having “done more for Shaw Air Force base than anyone else in Washington.”
Regarding his personal health, Spratt said:
“In announcing that I will run again, there are rumors about my health that I want to resolve.
“Over much of last year, I had bone spurs on my right heel. I put off surgery until the House adjourned for the August recess, and during that time, the spurs shredded my Achilles tendon, causing me to hobble around in pain. I had the surgery in August, and it was a success, but it kept me off my feet for six weeks.
“Once my foot was fixed, I opted to have an outpatient procedure in November involving my prostate, but to dispel any doubt, the problem in no way involved cancer. This operation was also a success.
“There is one other issue. My doctor tells me that I am in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, but the symptoms are mild and the progression is slow. The chief symptom is an occasional tremor in my right hand, which responds to medication
and is mostly a nuisance. The other symptom is in my posture, which is bent a bit, but I hope to correct it with exercise.
“None of these symptoms affects me mentally or physically. In January, for example, I made a long trek across the world to Afghanistan, with no limits on our itinerary.
“I see my neurologist, Dr. Marc Stacy, once a year, and in December, I went to him for a prognosis. Dr. Stacy was pleased with the status and slow progression, and told me, “if you are looking for a reason not to run again, this is not it.
“There are many reasons to run again, but I would never consider it if I did not have the energy, motivation, and ability to do this job to the fullest.”