Bipartisan legislation to end taxpayer subsidies for party conventions and route the money to pay for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health is heading to the Senate, and its sponsor, Republican Rep. Gregg Harper, on Saturday called for cooperation in getting the legislation passed.
"The good news is, these same Senate leaders have already voted to end the taxpayer subsidy for party conventions," said the Mississippi lawmaker in Saturday's GOP address. "Here’s a way to cut this unnecessary spending and put it towards building a better future for our kids."
The measure, named the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, passed the House in December and enjoys strong bipartisan and grassroots support.
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"Kids are always saying something isn’t fair, but sometimes they’ve got a point," said Harper. "Did you know that today in America, only 4 percent of all federal funding for cancer research goes to childhood cancer? That’s right, 4 percent for all pediatric cancers combined."
Harper said his son was only 4 years old when he was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, a condition often misdiagnosed as autism.
His son is now in college. But Harper said many families are not so fortunate.
"No, we can’t fix everything," said Harper. "But that doesn’t mean we should accept things as they are. After all, don’t we teach our kids never to settle for less?"
The House resolution will "make it a daily priority to explore the full potential of clinical trials and advancements," rather than spend money on political conventions, said Harper. The money would not only be used for cancer research, but for all pediatric conditions.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., is the bill's co-sponsor, and Harper said Welch 'had it right' when he asked "Can we just put the battle axes down for a while and take a step forward?”
The bill is named for Gabriella Miller, who lost her life to brain cancer when she was only 10. Harper said Miller became the leader for the cause for more research.
"If I go, if I lose my battle I'm going to want all the people to carry on with the war, and we're going to win this war," Miller had said after learning she had a tumor the size of a walnut when she was nine years old.
"Let's go out and prove her right," Harper said. "Join us in urging our senators to put kids first and pass this bill. In this season of sweeping resolutions, here’s a chance to show how one small change can make a big difference."
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