JACKSON — Mississippi Rep. Gregg Harper is praising U.S. Senate passage of a bill to repeal taxpayer funding for political conventions and to go on record in support of devoting $126 million over the coming decade for additional research into pediatric cancer and other childhood disorders.
Harper, R-Miss., was a co-author of the bill in the House. It passed the Senate Tuesday. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature. The House passed the measure late last year.
"As the father of a special needs child, I understand fully the challenges facing families raising kids with medical difficulties," said Harper, whose 24-year-old son lives with Fragile X Syndrome. "This bill appropriately places kids first by prioritizing research for our country's most vulnerable children."
Fragile X is similar to autism and causes learning and behavioral challenges. It is a rare condition that accounts for just 2 percent to 4 percent of autism cases but is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability in boys.
The legislation was named after Gabriella Miller, a Virginia girl who died of brain cancer last year at age 10. She had helped raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and also sought to win public support for pediatric cancer research.
"Sending this bill to the president is a fitting tribute to Gabriella's legacy," Harper said in a news release. "I urge the president to sign the bill without hesitation."
The bill doesn't directly fund additional pediatric research; the actual funding would come in future appropriations bills. Funding for medical research through the National Institutes of Health has been squeezed in recent years under tight spending limits and automatic spending cuts.