There is something heart warming about the ALS challenge for many. It is a chance to raise awareness and funding for those who need it and who are battling ALS. For people who suffer from ALS or family members, it is very encouraging to see so many celebrities, friends and individuals all chip in to help battle this illness.
There is something a little perverse, however, about what is happening as Republicans decide to take the Ice Plunge challenge while at the same time stripping research and development dollars.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins participated in the national firestorm of interest in ALS by dousing herself with a breathtaking bucket of ice water and donating to advance research on the disease.You see, part of the reason why ALS is doing this form of outreach - to hopefully raise attention and funds is because of actions this congresswoman participated in, to strip funds from them in the form of a direct attack on NIH funding.
"I'm glad to take part in this challenge, and I have also donated to help raise awareness and fight ALS," the Kansas Republican said with video of the icy maneuver posted to Facebook.
Analysis of Jenkins' voting record in the House indicated she was among more than a dozen members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge after voting to cut $1.5 billion from the 2011 budget of the National Institutes of Health.
It is great that Congresswoman Jenkins can show her support for ALS by taking an ice bucket over the back - but let us be honest with what is really happening in her office. She is using this challenge as a means to reach out to her community and show them that she cares about a cause. There is no stated amount that she specifically donated to ALS, but I can be pretty sure it isn't the $5M she voted to cut from their funding.
WASHINGTON -- The National Institutes of Health released an updated projection of the cuts it must make to deal with spending reductions put in place by sequestration, and the picture isn't pretty.Thanks to votes by Jenkins, a level of austerity sat in, with a significant cost. And it wasn't just to ALS research who lost funding. Cancer studies lost funding. So did research into numerous communicable and genetic illnesses. Funding was reduced or delayed. Grants were slowed down.
While the National Cancer Institute received $5.06 billion in FY 2012, it is budgeted to receive only $4.77 billion in FY 2013. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences' budget will fall from $2.42 billion to $2.29 billion, meanwhile, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' budget will fall from $574 million to $542 million. Overall, the NIH's discretionary budget authority will go from $30.7 billion to $29 billion.
Removing $1.7 billion from a budget in a matter of months -- sequestration passed in March 1 and will be felt through the end of September -- is a dramatic exercise in spending reduction. Doing so requires harsh choices.
“NIH-funded research has led to enormous strides in the fight against heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening illnesses,” said Sue Nelson, Vice President of Federal Advocacy for the American Heart Association. “New treatments won’t be there for future generations if we continue down this path. These cuts will stall economic growth, set back innovation, and prevent us improving the health of all Americans.”Realizing that this hypocrisy looked bad, her office decided to make a statement.
Tom Brandt, spokesman for Jenkins' congressional office in Washington, said Thursday the budget deal negotiated by Republican leadership and President Barack Obama in 2011 reduced the rate of discretionary spending in an attempt to moderate the federal deficit.So, after the election, she'll move for more money. However, I have been unable to verify any meeting or public statements in regard to this made available on the internet of her desire to fight for expanded NIH funding until the Ice Bucket challenge got underway.
"While that resulted in a slight reduction in funding for ALS, Congresswoman Jenkins has been working to restore research funding," Brandt said.
He said Jenkins had more recently joined 100 House colleagues in recommending the NIH aid rise to $32 billion in the 2015 fiscal year. That would be a record amount for the agency, he said.
I guess maybe being pressured into doing something works.
Still, Lynn, if you have the means, might I encourage you to give the other illness that aren't ALS the between $1.5-$1.7B you took from them? It'd be a nice gesture, and you won't even need to use an ice bucket. I promise you, the American Cancer Society and so many others freely accept cashiers checks.
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