Congress Approves Bill To Bolster NIH Pediatric Research Funding
On Tuesday, the Senate in a unanimous voice vote passed a House-approved, GOP-sponsored bill (HR 2019) that would shift $126 million in federal funds meant for political party conventions to federal pediatric research at NIH over 10 years, the Washington Post reports (Costa, Washington Post, 3/11).
The bill would allocate the funds for research into a range of pediatric cancers and childhood diseases, like autism and Down syndrome (Taylor, AP/Boston Globe, 3/11). In addition to funneling those funds into NIH's Common Fund for such research efforts, the bill also would make significant changes to how presidential campaigns are funded and how political parties would have to raise funds for their nominating conventions
The passage of the bill -- which President Obama is expected to sign -- is being hailed as a rare display of bipartisanship, even though some Republicans and Democrats criticized and questioned the design of the bill, according to the Post (Washington Post, 3/11).
Several GOP lawmakers initially opposed the measure, arguing that the funds should be used to offset the federal deficit. Meanwhile, several Democrats argued that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- who championed the bill -- was attempting to obscure several years of GOP-led funding cuts to medical research, according to Roll Call's "218."
Meanwhile, some Democrats -- including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- criticized the bill for potentially drawing attention away from larger budget cuts at NIH (Newhauser, "218," Roll Call, 3/11).
Reid said, "It's extremely important that we understand that the NIH is billions of dollars short of being able to maintain the place they've had in past years" (Washington Post, 3/11). He said the bill was largely symbolic, adding that it does not directly fund pediatric research and that the funds for such purposes will be set aside through the congressional appropriations process (AP/Boston Globe, 3/11).
However, Cantor was able to secure the support of the Democratic-led Senate with the help of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and his home state's two Democratic senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, who co-sponsored corresponding legislation in the upper chamber, "218" reports ("218," Roll Call, 3/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.