A picture of Representative Henry A. Waxman
Henry W.
Former Democrat CA 33
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    Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

    by Former Representative Henry A. Waxman

    Posted on 2013-12-11

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    WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise, reluctantly, to oppose this bill.

    First of all, I want to express to Gabriella Miller's family my sincere sympathies.

    We all want to fund more research to fight pediatric disease. Nothing could be a more worthy objective. If we could only reverse the cuts that this House has adopted under Republican leadership, the National Institutes of Health could make an even greater amount of progress in understanding and treating so many different devastating diseases for children and others.

    This bill was never heard in committee. We never had a chance to have witnesses come forward and talk about it or debate how best to achieve the bill's stated goals. That is why many of us think it is more a statement than a credible proposal, especially when you look at the Republican House majority's record on biomedical research funding. It is a dismal one.

    They wrote and passed a bill which would have significantly cut NIH. They supported sequestration, which similarly reduced the NIH budget by nearly $2 billion in 2013 alone. And now this bill comes along, where they claim to provide NIH with about $13 million a year for pediatric research. That is a miniscule amount compared to the funding for pediatric research NIH lost due to Republican budget cuts and sequestration.

    The way we usually handle NIH is the Appropriations Committee issues a bill appropriating money for NIH. They can do that. If we increase the money for NIH, they can do that. They don't need this bill to increase funding for pediatric research. What they need is a higher spending cap. This bill doesn't bring about a higher spending cap.

    And then I have concerns I want to express about the way they structure the investments in pediatric research by funding it through the NIH Director's Common Fund. By design, that fund is not disease or population specific, giving NIH flexibility to determine funding priorities each year. It also doesn't take into consideration the existing pediatric research initiative, which we strengthened with the recent enactment of pediatric research network legislation.

    Researchers all across the country have echoed the importance of sustained NIH funding for our Nation's health, our economic growth, and our global leadership on biomedical research.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

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