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Senate Sends Obama 'Kids First' Research Act

March 13, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (March 13, 2014) -- The Senate by unanimous consent has approved the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act providing $126 million over 10 years to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research on pediatric conditions, including autism. The bill goes to President Obama for his signature.

Announced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) last year on World Autism Awareness Day, the measure picked up bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate led by Virginia's Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Utah Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch. The bill (HR.2019) was named in honor of Gabriella Miller [left], a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last October following an 11-month battle with an inoperable brain tumor. Over 100 advocacy groups, including Autism Speaks, endorsed the bill.

The bill would eliminate public funding for the presidential nominating conventions and redirect the funding to the NIH for pediatric research. About $12.6 million a year would be made available.

"Autism Speaks commends Leader Cantor for forging this bipartisan commitment to funding research for autism and pediatric conditions," said Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. "This shows sound leadership and sets an important example about how to establish priorities in Congress."

“This bipartisan effort is about making sure pediatric disease research is a high priority,” said Kaine. "I applaud the leadership of my fellow Richmonder Eric Cantor in moving this bill through the House.”

Warner said he saw consensus that pediatric research "should be a higher national priority.”

“Our children are our future, and furthering our efforts to fight against pediatric cancer and other diseases impacting our youth should be among our nation’s top priorities," said Hatch.  "I’m proud the House and Senate were able to come together in a bipartisan manner and pass this important bill, and I hope the President signs into law as soon as possible.”