U.S. Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a major policy speech on February 5, in which he outlined a wide-ranging domestic agenda for the Republican Party that focused on scientific research, education, healthcare, and job training. The remarks by Cantor, who is the House Majority leader and a leading advocate for limiting the size of the federal government, raised hopes in the research community and eyebrows in his own party.
In a speech modeled on a State of the Union address, complete with invited guests to personalize portions of his remarks, Cantor said that he wanted to move beyond the recent focus on budget cutting and debt ceilings and to provide a new agenda for his party. "Over the next two years," Cantor said, "the House Majority will pursue an agenda based on a shared vision of creating the conditions for health, happiness, and prosperity for more Americans and their families. And to restrain Washington from interfering in those pursuits."
One of his guests was Katie, a 12-year-old from Richmond, VA, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor soon after her first birthday. Cantor outlined for the audience the many trials Katie and her family had endured while seeking treatment. Cantor said, "We also must pray that scientists and researchers find cures to these diseases so our parents and grandparents don’t leave us too soon, or that children like Katie are not robbed of a healthy life."
The congressman said that there was a role for federally supported basic research. He also called for a reduction in government red tape to help speed the development of drugs and treatments. Federal funding for social science research, however, should be reprioritized in favor of biomedical research, Cantor said. This is the second time in recent months that Cantor has spoken out for basic biomedical research.
While Cantor’s remarks were welcomed by the basic research community, they were criticized in Washington, even by fellow Republicans. In part, there is confusion on how Cantor’s policy goals outlined in his speech might conflict with budget legislation currently being considered by the House of Representatives.
—Kevin M. Wilson
Created on Tuesday, February 26, 2013