This morning, the Senate passed by voice vote legislation authored by Rep. Peter Welch and Rep. Greg Harper (R-MS) to boost funding for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019) passed the House in December by a vote of 295-103. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.
The legislation is named in memory of Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old children's health research advocate from Virginia who recently died of brain cancer. Her story is told in this December CNN report which features Rep. Welch.
"This is an important step in advancing life-saving research into pediatric cancer and other chronic diseases affecting children," said Welch. "Passing this bipartisan bill demonstrates yet again that it is possible, even in this divided Congress, to set aside partisan differences and get something done for the American people."
Rep. Welch worked closely with Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor to advance the bill. "So often everyone is focused on what Congress cannot accomplish that we overlook the good that can be done when both parties work together," said Cantor after the Senate's approval. "Putting pediatric research over politics was the entire point of this bill, and we have achieved that in more ways than one."
The legislation invests $12.6 million annually for 10 years in scientific research for pediatric disease and disorders by creating a `10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund'. The initiative would be administered by the Common Fund at the NIH.
Senate passage of the bill comes on the heels of last week's House vote approving Welch's bipartisan Energy Efficient Improvement Act (H.R. 2126). The Senate is expected to soon consider similar legislation introduced by Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Portman (R-OH).