Today the House of Representatives will consider HR 2019, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. This legislation would eliminate taxpayer financing of Presidential elections and conventions and authorize this funding to instead be spend pediatric research at the NIH. We at Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy have not endorsed this legislation and would like to take this opportunity to explain why. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that one dime will be spent on pediatric cancer research as a result of passage of HR 2019. In fact, all indications are that this legislation will not be acted upon in the Senate which means no enactment into law. Furthermore, even if HR 2019 was passed by the Senate and signed into law, it would still be subject to the appropriations process that may never allocate this funding. Instead, the pediatric disease community will be put in competition with each other for a small sliver of funding – roughly 0.4% of the entire funding spent by the NIH on pediatric research in 2012.
Perhaps the worst outcome of all that the childhood cancer community could face is decreased support among Members of Congress for other more productive initiatives that would respond to the real needs of pediatric cancer researchers in their quest for better treatments for kids with cancer. We must not allow support for this legislation be used as an excuse for failing to support efforts that could have much more meaningful results for the childhood cancer community.
Sadly, HR 2019 has become highly politicized by Democrats and Republicans alike. Our decision not to endorse this bill, however, is not a political one, but rather a conscious decision by Children’s Cause and its advisers to do what we do best: promote sound government policies that will have the most positive and direct impact on improving research and care for children with cancer, survivors and their families.