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Democrats join GOP to pass bill authorizing pediatrics research funds

Democrats join GOP to pass bill authorizing pediatrics research funds
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, speaks during a news conference promoting the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill that the House of Representatives considered on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 25, 2007. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The House approved authorizing a shift of $12.5 million from U.S. political conventions to pediatric medical research, a vote one Democrat called "a message."

The House voted 295-103, with 72 Democrats joining, to clear the two-thirds majority threshold needed for the suspension bill, Roll Call reported. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., was the lone Republican to vote against the bill.

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The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, named after a 10-year-old girl who died in October after a nearly yearlong battle with an inoperable brain tumor, was the latest version of a proposal unveiled in April by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Democrats and their leadership aired objections to the bill earlier this week, noting they didn't object to funding medical research but stressing Republicans cut billions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health in the first place, and were merely trying to make political hay.

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Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., called the bill "a joke," and said it was "nothing but a guise and a ruse."

During debate Wednesday, Republicans accused Democrats of putting politics ahead of pediatrics research, while Democrats charged that Republicans were making a cynical effort to fund the NIH after whacking its funding.

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"The question before members today is simple," Cantor said. "What is more important: finding cures for our children, or balloons for party conventions and catering for politicians?"

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Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., questioned Republicans' sincerity and ripped them for cutting NIH funding in the first place.

"This is not real. It is a message," Hoyer said, noting the bill only authorizes the money, it doesn't appropriate it.

"Everybody on this floor, I presume, is for children's health, is for pediatric research, is for trying to make sure that our children are healthy and safe from disease and affliction," Hoyer said. "I presume all of us are for it. But talk is cheap."

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