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November 23, 2014

Cantor Scores First GOP Rebranding Win as Pediatric Research Bill Sails Through Senate

cantor121013 445x295 Cantor Scores First GOP Rebranding Win as Pediatric Research Bill Sails Through Senate

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., cheered the passage of one of his top priorities Tuesday, as a pediatric research funding bill he laboriously pushed through the House easily passed the Senate.

The bill is the first piece of legislation under the umbrella of Cantor’s much-publicized Republican rebrand to pass the Senate, and his office now expects President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law.

“So often everyone is focused on what Congress cannot accomplish that we overlook the good that can be done when both parties work together,” Cantor said in a statement.

Of course, the road to passage was not so simple for the legislation. It moves $126 million over 10 years that would be used to pay for political conventions into a fund that can only be applied to pediatric research through the National Institutes of Health.

Yet many House Republicans opposed the bill because they would rather see the money used to offset the deficit. Top Democrats, meanwhile, called the $126 million a pittance in the NIH budget and said Cantor was simply trying to obscure several years of Republican-led cuts to medical research.

It was not until Cantor rebranded the bill itself that he found legislative success.

The bill was renamed for Gabriella Miller, a 10-year-old Virginia girl who died last year. Afflicted with brain cancer, she nonetheless made viral YouTube videos advocating for heightened awareness for pediatric diseases.

With Miller’s parents watching from the House chamber’s visitors gallery, the bill passed in December on a 295-103 vote despite objections from Democratic leaders.

It passed the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous consent.

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