Weekly Republican Address: Calling on the Senate to Put #KidsFirst

John Boehner

In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) calls on the United States Senate to pass the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, which boosts funding for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health by ending taxpayer subsidies for party conventions.  The measure, which enjoys strong bipartisan and grassroots support, passed the House last month.

The full audio of the weekly address is here, and the video will be available here tomorrow at 6 am ET.

Remarks of Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS)
Weekly Republican Address
The Capitol
January 4, 2014

Good morning and Happy New Year from the Capitol.

Kids are always saying something isn’t fair, but sometimes they’ve got a point.  Did you know that today in America, only four percent of all federal funding for cancer research goes to childhood cancer?  That’s right, four percent for all pediatric cancers combined.

This doesn’t just set us back in the race for cutting-edge cures and treatments.  It places a ceiling on a child’s ability to overcome obstacles and do great things.

I’m sure this issue hits home for many of you.  It certainly does for our family.  Livingston, our oldest, was 4 when he was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, a disorder that is often misdiagnosed as autism.  Today, he’s making his way through college in a program for students with intellectual disabilities.

Many families, of course, are not as fortunate.  They’re out there waiting for hope and answers that often never come.

No, we can’t fix everything.  But that doesn’t mean we should accept things as they are.  After all, don’t we teach our kids never to settle for less?

That’s why I was proud to introduce H.R. 2019, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

This bipartisan legislation directs much-needed resources to pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health.  We do this using taxpayer dollars currently set aside for political party conventions.

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.  Not only for childhood cancer, but for all pediatric conditions – even the most rare genetic diseases.

Last month, the House passed H.R. 2019 with strong support from both sides of the aisle.  Now it’s the Senate’s turn to step up so we can send this bill to the president’s desk.

The good news is, these same Senate leaders have already voted to end the taxpayer subsidy for party conventions.  Here’s a way to cut this unnecessary spending and put it towards building a better future for our kids.

Peter Welch, my Democratic co-sponsor for this bill, had it right when he asked: “Can we just put the battle axes down for a while and take a step forward?”

I know we can.  And if we do, it just might inspire us to come together and do what the American people sent us here to do.  Jobs, health care, energy, education, and innovation are all areas in which the House has started work that Washington needs to finish this year.

But first, we need your help to get this done.

Don’t take it from me.  Gabriella Miller, this bill’s namesake – was … well, she was something special.

She was 9 when she found out that she had a brain tumor the size of a walnut.  And she was 10 when brain cancer took her life.  In that time, Gabriella – never at a loss for words or wisdom – became the leader of this movement.

And she was awfully good at it.  “If I go,” Gabriella said, “If I lose my battle I’m going to want all the people to carry on with the war, and we’re going to win this war.”

Let’s go out and prove her right.   Join us in urging our senators to put kids first and pass this bill.

In this season of sweeping resolutions, here’s a chance to show how one small change can make a big difference.

Thank you for listening. 

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