Obama Signs Law Authorizing $126 Million over 10 Years for Pediatric Research
President Barack Obama signed a bill authorizing $126 million for pediatric medical research over the next 10 years, following a rare showing of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.
The bill, known as the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, is named after a 10-year-old girl who died from a brain tumor in October 2013. Miller was an advocate for childhood cancer research and awareness, raising money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and helping to establish the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, following her diagnosis in November 2012.
The pediatric research fund would reallocate money originally used to pay for national political conventions during presidential elections, and instead route it through the NIH Common Fund—under the condition that it be used to supplement grants for pediatric research—at a rate of $12.6 million per year. The bill itself does not directly appropriate any funds, but does authorize the transfer of the money. According to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, NIH spent $3.6 billion last year on pediatric research.
“We’re going to need some cooperation from Congress to continue to work on a bipartisan basis to actually allocate those dollars in an effective way,” Obama said as he signed the bill into law April 3, in front of members of the Miller family. “I know that NIH is very eager to work on these pediatric cancers because obviously nothing is more challenging for a family than to go through something like this.”
The bill was passed the House Dec. 11, by a vote of 295 to 103, with many Democrats joining Republicans, and was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate March 11, with no formal vote taken.
Many House Democrats voted against the bill, saying that $12.6 million a year is not near the money removed from NIH’s budget due to sequestration, while those who voted for it described it as better than nothing.
“Sequestration cut $1.6 billion from NIH last year—$1.6 billion,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as he expressed his concerns on the floor before moving the bill forward. “In the omnibus we passed, we gave them current level funding, but that hole for NIH is still there. NIH has lost huge amounts of money over the past few years in the way that we have struggled to get financing for our country.”
Sequestration cut $255 million from the NCI budget.
“This is a small amount of money, but it will be extremely helpful to the NIH,” he said. “I would hope my Republican colleagues would join with us in increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health.”
“This is a small amount of money, but it will be extremely helpful to the NIH,” said Reid. “I would hope my Republican colleagues would join with us in increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health.”