Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

Published 9:40 am Saturday, December 14, 2013

by Randy Forbes

One child on every school bus.

That’s how many children are affected by autism. This is according to new data showing that autism spectrum disorder now affects one in 50 school-aged children in the United States. Autism and other pediatric diseases, like juvenile diabetes and leukemia, affect millions of children across the nation. While many of these diseases can be treated in some way, treatment is often intense, confusing and emotional for the children and families involved. And most importantly, treatment is not the same as cure.

Treatments are reactive – we need to be proactive. Before it gets to the point where these children are suffering, we need to make it our priority to help them. We can do this by actively pushing for research that will uncover cures for autism and other diseases impacting our children. Medical research has long been an engine of America’s competitiveness and a source of hope for many Americans. The National Institutes of Health holds distinctions in public sector innovation rivaled only by the Department of Defense and NASA. However, the research the NIH undertakes needs adequate federal resources to meet its potential.

Today, we face the very real circumstance of limited federal resources. Every taxpayer dollar needs to be scrutinized. Not only do we need to cut wasteful and unnecessary programs, but we also need to prioritize and repurpose where our federal dollars are going. We need to think about our federal dollars in terms of investment – allocating them where we can get the greatest returns. To that end, there is one investment priority I think many of us can agree on: children should come before political parties and conventions.

I am proud to join with over 150 members of Congress in cosponsoring an important bipartisan initiative that combines the twin goals of investing in medical research for children and prioritizing federal dollars.

As it stands now, current law allows taxpayers to designate $3 on their federal tax return to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, which provides matching funds to candidates.

However, in recent elections, use of the Fund by candidates has declined, making it unnecessary.

The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019), named for the 10-year-old girl who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, eliminates the unused Presidential Election Campaign Fund and diverts the remaining money (about $130 million) to expand pediatric medical research at the NIH.

The bill doesn’t authorize any new spending. It simply reflects a shift in priorities: redirecting federal dollars from political parties and conventions to research that will benefit our nation’s children.

The bill is supported by groups such as Autism Speaks, Children’s Hospital Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

This type of investment just makes sense. Our children are our nation’s greatest resource. With House passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act this week, we are taking a step toward prioritizing the quality of life for our future generation of leaders.

U.S. Rep. RANDY FORBES, R-Va., represents Western Tidewater in the U.S. House of Representatives. His e-mail address is