Battling Disabling Disordersby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2014-03-11
McCONNELL. As a survivor of polio as a child, I have always
empathized with children battling life-threatening or disabling
disorders. I also have a special place in my heart for those who work
day in and day out to help kids who are battling childhood diseases.
That is especially true when these researchers and physicians are
working with children in my home State of Kentucky at places such as
the University of Louisville, the University of Kentucky, and Kosair
Children's Hospital. That is why I have long been a strong supporter of
pediatric medical research.
I cosponsored and helped shepherd the Childhood Cancer Act of 2008 through the Senate. I also voted for the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and, as Republican leader, helped to secure its reauthorization in 2011. These were not partisan initiatives. They were areas where the two parties had generally worked together to advance the common good. Maybe that is why we don't hear that much about them, but I think we all agree there is more to be done.
Late last year the House passed bipartisan legislation, which I strongly support, to shift funding from lower priority programs to pediatric research, including childhood cancers, autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X, and countless other disorders and diseases that affect our children and don't yet have a cure. These efforts could be paid for by using taxpayer funding of the Republican and Democratic political conventions.
Frankly, it is hard to imagine that there would be any objection to moving these funds to do something we can all agree is a very high priority, and that is pediatric research.
Thanks to the leadership of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Savings Act, which was named in honor of a young girl from Virginia, passed the House on a wide bipartisan majority with nearly 300 votes. After it arrived in the Senate, I asked my colleagues on the Republican side to pass it and send it to the President for his signature, because I saw the positive impact these funds would have on pediatric research. All Republicans agreed to pass the bill on January 7, and today marks the 63rd day that Senate Democrats have failed to act--although I must say I understand it has now cleared and I think that is excellent. It is about time we passed this bill out of the Senate. I believe we are about to do that. This is the type of bipartisan legislation that should move easily through the Senate. We should be able to pass the measure today and it is my understanding we will be able to do that.