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Conservative breaks with Heritage on medical research

Conservative breaks with Heritage on medical research
© Greg Nash

One of the House’s most conservative members is urging his GOP colleagues to support a multibillion-dollar medical cures bill over the concerns of the influential Heritage Action Foundation.

Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderBottom line Amanda Adkins wins GOP primary to challenge Rep. Sharice Davids Sharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' MORE (R-Kan.) penned a letter late Tuesday in support of the 21st Century Cures Act, which creates billions of dollars of new funding for research at the National Institutes of Health.

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“As conservatives, we should be advocating for federal investment in research now in order to bend the cost curve down the road,” he wrote, describing it as a "moral issue."

Yoder's support of the costly legislation puts him at odds with Heritage Action, which has given him a score of 85 percent.

The conservative group announced Tuesday that members' vote on the 21st Century Cures bill would count as part of their scores. 

Heritage Action objects to the bill, which skirts budget caps put in place in 2011 by boosting funding for the National Institutes of Health through mandatory spending that is not subject to those limits or the normal appropriations process. 

While the bill is fully offset, Heritage Action condemned the source of funding — selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — which it said "is not a piggy bank" for Congress. 

Yoder argues that the legislation "appropriately strikes that balance" of advancing research while finding ways to pay for it. 

"It is an important step towards curing those diseases that are taking the lives of our loved ones. But it is also an important step towards curing the disease that threatens to destroy our nation’s fiscal health: runaway entitlement spending and the trillions of dollars in debt that will morph into an inoperable tumor if we don’t act soon," he wrote.

The legislation, which advanced unanimously out of committee, will head to the floor this week. With more than 230 co-sponsors, it is still predicted to pass with broad bipartisan support, though it can now expect at least some conservative opposition.

A spokeswoman for Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has led on the bill, called Heritage Action's move "surprisingly short-sighted."