Lawmakers Who Cut Funds For ALS Research Ironically Take Ice Bucket Challenge For ALS Research
Some of the lawmakers participating in the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and funds for ALS also voted to cut a lot more funds for research than the entire challenge has raised.
While it doesn’t necessarily make a lawmaker a hypocrite to donate his own money to a cause while being against the government funding it, it does serve as a reminder that Congress could have done much more than the current ice bucket fad ever could to fund and raise awareness of ALS if it simply continued to fund the National Institutes of Health at pre-2011 levels.
The funding cuts were included in the Budget Control Act of 2011, the bill that “saved” the US government from default.
As a condition to get Republicans to sign off on the debt ceiling hike, Senate Democrats agreed to an across-the-board budget cut of 5 percent.
Because of the bill, the National Institutes of Health were forced to cut $1.55 billion from their operations, including from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The NINDS budget reportedly fell by $92 million while funds specifically earmarked for ALS research dropped from $44 million to $39 million.
In the 2014 budget deal, the budget increased somewhat but is still tens of millions less than it was before the 2011 bill was passed.
While the ice bucket challenge has raised more than $31 million in funds that will go to the ALS Association, the NIH continues to struggle with funding for science research.
Multiple members of Congress have introduced a bill that would roll back the budget cuts to NIH but it’s unclear if that bill will get enough support.
“Since 2011, House Republicans have cut NIH funding by billions,” Michigan Congressman John Dingell tweeted. “And you thought dumping ice water on your head was cold.”