Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Actby Representative David E. Price
Posted on 2013-12-11
PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, this is a sad and, indeed,
depressing debate because there is such a transparent effort underway
to weaken our Nation's campaign finance laws even further by the
perfectly legitimate, compelling case for sick children in our country.
This represents the worst of Republican cynicism--I have just got to
say it--and since this measure stands no chance of passing in the
Senate, it is a fitting end to the least productive session of Congress
in modern history.
The passage of this bill will do nothing to increase the Federal funding of pediatric disease research. That is why it is so cynical. Simply authorizing a new program will not translate into additional funding in the current appropriations environment. If the majority were really serious, it wouldn't have passed a budget that makes adequate funding for medical research impossible or, perhaps, it would actually try to negotiate a comprehensive budget agreement that lifts sequestration once and for all from pediatric research and many other priorities. To make matters worse, this bill would make it more difficult to modernize and reinvigorate one of the most successful examples of campaign finance reform in our Nation's history--the Presidential public financing program--which has given candidates a viable alternative to private and corporate fund-raising for more than three decades.
Now, I agree with my colleagues from both parties in that paying for Presidential nominating conventions is not a wise use of taxpayer dollars, but if the House majority is truly concerned about this issue, I would encourage it to schedule a vote on my bill, the Empowering Citizens Act, which not only would prevent taxpayer dollars from being used for conventions, but it would also include important ``soft money'' provisions to prevent high-dollar special interests from funding conventions. The Empowering Citizens Act would mend, not end, the Presidential public financing system, bringing it up to date with campaign realities. It would also establish a voluntary small donor public funding program for congressional campaigns as well as strong rules forbidding the coordination between super-PACs and political parties or campaigns.
I believe we are at a tipping point in the short history of campaign finance reform in our country. We can either choose to stand by the commonsense reforms that restored America's faith in elections after the Watergate scandal or we can choose to cede the control of political campaigns entirely to wealthy corporations and interest groups.
The responsible choice is clear, so I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose this measure in the hope that the Republican majority will both get serious about medical research funding and will get serious about the oversized influence of millionaires and billionaires and super-PACs in our democracy.