House Republican leadership used their first radio address of the new year as an occasion to lean on Senate Democrats to take up consideration of legislation that would redirect millions in federal funding from political conventions to pediatric research.
“Instead of funding these conventions once every four years, we’ll make it a daily priority to explore the full potential of clinical trials and advancements,” Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper said. “Not only for childhood cancer, but for all pediatric conditions, even the most rare genetic diseases.”
At present, less than 4 percent of the $4.9 billion spent annually on cancer research goes to childhood conditions. The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which passed the House last month on a 295-102 vote, aimed to change that.
Named after a ten-year-old Virginia girl who died of brain cancer earlier this year, the legislation would divert $126 million in federal spending earmarked for party nominating conventions to the National Institutes of Health.
The measure won bipartisan support and was opposed by only one House Republican: Paul Broun, a physician and member of the congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus.
So why the no vote? Spokeswoman Christine Hardman told Athens altweekly Flagpole that “while Dr. Broun supported the cause of the bill, he did not believe this was the right way to accomplish this mission” for fear those funds might someday be redirected to the next “cause of the day.”
Broun’s logic didn’t sit well with some of his constituents, who described the Republican as a self-righteous preener in complaints to the magazine.
Randy Russel, a University of Georgia employee whose four-year-old son, Jake, suffers from a rare bone cancer, told Flagpole he couldn’t envision those funds being siphoned elsewhere.
“It is just unfortunate that our children have such a small voice in Washington,” he said. “I guess the reality is that Jake and others like him don’t vote.”
Others at UGA, which is represented by Broun and whose faculty have long been at odds with the conservative lawmaker, have taken a more vocal role in cheering on the children left in the lurch by a lack of research funding.
This week, the school’s football coaching staff and players took time out of their Gator Bowl preparation to film a two-minute video for young Ethen Richardson, a South Carolina third-grader with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. (Fox News Channel viewers will recognize Richardson, who appeared on the network’s New Year’s Eve countdown as part of his Make a Wish trip to New York City.)
Watch UGA’s video message to Ethen below the fold: