In 2012, the Republican and Democratic parties received $36 million in federal taxpayer dollars to help pay for their presidential conventions. In 2016, they’ll receive zero dollars.
Today the U.S. Senate passed and President Barack Obama promised to sign into a law a bill cutting off federal funds for the quadra-annual party extravaganzas, which “has been a GOP cause for several years,” reported the Washington Times.
The bill was championed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and included a sharp poke in the ribs to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The funds that would have gone to the parties instead will go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for pediatric research funding.
After the bill passed by unanimous consent of the Senate, Reid groused that nobody should “claim victory.” He pointed out that this was only millions of dollars that would be taken from politicians and given to medical research for sick kids, while the NIH was allegedly “billions of dollars in the hole.”
McConnell’s bill stung Reid because of his widely pilloried remarks during last year’s government shutdown. When Republicans learned that NIH cancer trials for children weren’t included under vital government functions, they passed a limited funding bill in the House of Representatives to rectify the problem and sent it over to the Senate for approval.
Reid balked in a most unfortunate way. At a press conference a CNN reporter asked “But if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?” He answered with a belligerent question: “Why would we want to do that?”
Reid explained, “I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.”
Critics pointed out that those problems were not life threatening, and that if he didn’t go along with it, cancer-stricken children might literally be denied a slim chance to make it. Then, as now, he grudgingly relented.