The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is slated to get $126 million over 10 years for pediatrics research after the U.S. Senate yesterday approved legislation that was once seen by many Democrats as a cynical ploy.
The bill, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, shifts money from public financing of conventions into a special pot within the Common Fund at NIH that can be used only for pediatric research. The $3 checkoff appears on U.S. tax forms and was created as a way to offset the influence of special interests in presidential elections. But since 2008, candidates have declined to accept the money because it would impose a ceiling on their overall spending.
A story in Roll Call describes the political roller coaster ride that the legislation has taken since Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House of Representatives majority leader, went to bat for the parents of Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last year from a brain tumor. The legislation easily passed the House in December despite complaints from leading Democrats that it diverted attention from NIH’s larger budget woes. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) took up the cause of their state colleague and eventually persuaded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to allow the bill to go to the floor, where it passed on a voice vote after only brief debate.