Leader Cantor: We Can Work Together On The Last Piece Of The Puzzle

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“One of the things I’ve been most concerned about is making sure that the purposes of funding research programs is to provide a benefit to patients, families, individuals like they were set out to do. That is one of the biggest jobs of Congress is to hold these types of programs accountable. Accountable to the people that we have said we want to benefit. I believe that it is important to maintain that monetary commitment. But, as I just said, I do believe that what is needed are new approaches to research.”

“As President Knapp just mentioned, I have supported what is called the Kids First Research Act. This is a bill that is being sponsored by two members of Congress, one from Mississippi and the other from Vermont. Gregg Harper is the one from Mississippi who is a father of a child with Fragile X Syndrome. And Peter Welch from Vermont who has been very dedicated to medical research and discovery. This is a bipartisan bill. But what makes this bill so different is it says, yes, we have to maintain our commitment and the funding stream to the NIH and to the other agencies in pursuit of answers to a condition like Autism. But we also have and should provide for a fund – a repository if you will- for more dollars that look to new and transformative ways of research.”

“Now I’m often asked how I developed this interest in Autism and trying to deal with its effects, and it is a personal story. When I was elected to Congress, I met a woman named Kristin. She lived here in the Washington area and she came to work for me. She soon discovered, after a lot of challenges with her son, that he had Autism. She is a single mom – very devoted to her child – and decided at the time that she needed some help in raising her son – his name is Dylan. She moved to Connecticut, where her family was at the time, and was able to begin to learn and become educated about being a parent of a child with Autism. We loved her and Dylan so much that we never really let her out of our clutches. It wasn’t but two years ago that we finally convinced her to move back. She didn’t just move back here, she and Dylan moved back to my hometown of Richmond. Dylan is almost a member of my family. Kristin still works with us, Dylan is in my house every week, and I see the tremendous love that Kristin has for Dylan. She wants nothing more than to provide Dylan with the life that he deserves. Both of them have become such an inspiration to me, my wife, and our family. And if you really want to know why I’m so passionate about it, it is because of them.”

“What more of a priority for the federal government to provide a platform for research, to provide the answers to people like that so that yes they can have the same kind of life that this blessed country of ours affords. So at times like these when our country seems to be so divided on so many issues; where there seems oftentimes of little progress, I am convinced that there can be progress on medical research and discovery. I am convinced with your help, with Autism Speaks that we can pass the Kids First Research Act – which I hope we will do that before the end of the year. I think that we can ultimately work together to provide the answers to finally put together this last piece of the puzzle.”

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