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Public Statements

Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman, the gentleman from Michigan.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. I also would like to thank my colleague, the gentleman from Vermont, for his courage in providing bipartisan support, along with some other colleagues in support of this bill, as well as the Republican cosponsors, Gregg Harper from Mississippi and Tom Cole, my colleague from Oklahoma who is here in this Chamber.

For those colleagues who are here in the Chamber, we are joined by Gabriella Miller's parents, Ellyn and Mark Miller, who are in the gallery. I want to thank them for their courage in being here and for their understanding of what goes on on this floor and to not take it in any other way other than we are trying to do what is right in terms of delivering on the legacy of their daughter.

Mr. Speaker, Gabriella Miller, a young girl from Virginia, was only 9 years old when she found out she had an inoperable brain tumor the size of a walnut and wasn't given long to live. Despite her diagnosis, Gabriella and her family chose to fight and share her dream with others of overcoming childhood disease.

Gabriella was so determined that she captivated people's hearts at rallies, through online videos, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She even wrote a book for other children about understanding cancer. She poured every remaining ounce of her life into raising awareness for pediatric research for other children, with the hope that they would not have to suffer the same fate. In her last few months, Gabriella left a mark on the world that will never be forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that Washington has a spending problem. The problem is not only that we spend too much, but that we are spending taxpayer dollars on the wrong priorities. Medical research for children should be a national priority.

The first NIH bill I scheduled as majority leader was a bipartisan bill authored by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Representative Lois Capps to strengthen pediatric research networks. The President signed the bill into law last month.

The bill before us today builds on that legislation by providing resources through the NIH Common Fund for high-risk, high-reward research that has the potential to transform pediatric research for children suffering from many different diseases and disorders. For the first time, Congress will establish a Pediatric Research Initiative Fund that will serve as an accountability mechanism to help ensure that dollars are reaching their intended target.

While all of us support the NIH, this bill is an opportunity to push the agency to make big discoveries that will improve and ultimately save so many lives. We don't have to accept the status quo as the best we can achieve. Yes, the NIH needs taxpayer resources, but it also matters how we invest and apply those dollars.

Now, Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the sequester cuts. I agree. The sequester cuts were, unfortunately, indiscriminate, and I and my colleagues have proposed alternatives to them, but let's not let Washington politics get in the way of any effort to help these kids. This is one step of many that we should take together.

How many times do we meet parents and families who share their stories and ask for help? I recently had the privilege of meeting Gabriella's parents, Ellyn and Mark, and they personally shared with me Gabriella's fighting spirit. In fact, in one of her last interviews--and you can view this online--when asked what Gabriella would like to tell our political leaders, she said, ``Stop talking. Start doing. We need action.''

This, Mr. Speaker, is our opportunity to act.

Outside of this building, this legislation has tremendous support. The leading children's research hospitals, United for Medical Research, and over 100 patient advocacy groups support this bill. Currently, it leads all other bills on cosponsor.gov with over 2,500 citizen cosponsors. This kind of support is great, but what matters now are the Members of this House and how they vote. The question before the Members today is simple: What is more important--finding cures for our children or balloons for party conventions and catering for politicians?

The bottom line is that this bill is a choice between allocating moneys for political conventions or pediatric medical research. That is the choice. The bill isn't just about a government agency or taxpayer dollars. It is not about Democratic issues or Republican issues. It is about a cause, frankly, that should unite each and every one of us.

Yes, I would say to my colleague from California that this is a serious first step--it is not everything--but to not sit here and impugn anyone's motives, much less say something that is somehow a commentary that this isn't constructive towards the plight of the parents like the Millers who are around this country and who are searching for some indication that we can break the political gridlock on an issue like this. I align myself with the comments of my colleague from Vermont, who says, Can't we just put down the battle axes for something like this? Can't we all do that for somebody like Gabriella?

Now, Gabriella may no longer be with us, but her fight lives on. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that all of us stand united today and join in this fight.

Again, I want to thank Congressman Gregg Harper, and I want to thank Congressman Peter Welch for introducing this bill as well as to thank Congressman Cole from Oklahoma. Earlier this year, they began the effort to join with so many who have come before in order to raise awareness of the need for medical research and, yes, this time, of the need for us to prioritize the funding for pediatric research.

I would like to thank Gabriella's parents, the Millers, who are so brave in their commitment to this effort and who realize this is just a first step--being here with us today and joining us in this fight.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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