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Michele Bachmann supports ‘awareness’ of hydrocephalus, but not funding needed for research

Rep. Michele Bachmann has gotten a lot of mileage out of her symbolic congressional legislation to designate September “National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month.” However, her enthusiasm seems to stall when it comes to funding research for a cure for this brain disease. The 6th District Minnesota congresswoman has voted against federal research funds for hydrocephalus at every opportunity since she was elected in 2006.

Hydrocephalus is a condition in which excessive cerebrospinal fluid — a clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord — accumulates to cause an abnormal dilation of the spaces in the brain called ventricles. This dilation causes potentially harmful pressure on the tissues of the brain. The disease may be congenital or acquired, and occurs in about 1 in 500 births.

“It is my hope that by raising awareness of hydrocephalus, we can encourage the research that will lead to new diagnoses, treatments, and cures for it, helping these children and their families live full lives without constantly fearing the worst,” Bachmann wrote on her website.

Federal funding for hydrocephalus research comes through the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is part of the National Institutes of Health in HHS and is the leading federal agency conducting and funding hydrocephalus research. Some research also may be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also under HHS.

Bachmann’s own resolution states that “further research into the epidemiology, pathophysiology, disease burden, and improved treatment of hydrocephalus should be conducted and supported” and that “public awareness, professional education, and scientific research regarding hydrocephalus should increase through partnerships between the Federal Government, health care professionals, and patient advocacy groups.”

Yet Bachmann has voted against every HHS appropriations bill since 2007. She cast “no” votes on final passage of HHS appropriations for FY2007, FY2008, FY2009 and, on July 24, for FY2010.

Bachmann’s office did not return calls seeking an explanation for the congresswoman’s votes against federal research funds for hydrocephalus. But the next time Bachmann comes calling seeking publicity for her latest headline-grabbing bill, MinnPost and others would do well to go beyond the hollow words of her press releases to get the full story.
Karl Bremer is a Stillwater writer.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/04/2009 - 09:36 am.

    You’d think that a crew that spends every waking hour scouring the interwebs for bits and scraps of information about someone might have learned a thing or two about the subject of their obsession; perhaps, in the case of Representative Bachmann’s pursuers, through osmosis if not comprehension.

    For instance, it seems unlikely that Karl can be completely clueless to the fact that HHS appropriations have been routinely lumped into bloated omnibus bills into which Democrat legislators stuff earmarks that offend fiscally prudent as well as morally unambiguous American taxpayers.

    It’s a shame that some legislators feel no compunction about lumping funding for life saving research in together with ripping living children from the womb, quite literally limb from limb, but that’s the way it is.

    It is also hard to believe that Karl isn’t aware that Representative Bachmann had been working together with Michael and Kim Illions, the founders of the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation, and whose son suffers from that disease, to raise funds for Hydrocephalus research.

    It’s hard to believe that there are some people whose mindless hatred has reached the point where they are willing to throw mud on Representative Bachmann’s work on behalf of such a worthy cause.

    Really, Karl; have you no shame?

  2. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/04/2009 - 10:56 am.

    Perhaps the Congresswoman is taking a lesson from one of the previous Republican endeavors. “No Child Left Behind”
    Wonderful concept, minimal follow through.(funding)

    Ideology trumps action, wouldn’t want to give a little to get a little. How would that look to the base?

  3. Submitted by Howard Miller on 08/04/2009 - 11:09 am.

    I wonder why Mrs Bachmann can’t bring herself to support federal funding if she’s such a good advocate for patients suffering from hydrocephalus?

    She is a public legislator, not a private fund raiser. Great gains have been made through federally-sponsored research in all sorts of sciences;

    I believe it hypocritical for her to claim to be an advocate, but then stand in the way of more resources to pursue answers to hydrocephalus through publicly funded research in her congressional voting.

    Rather like family-values Republicans voting to deny extensions on unemployment insurance, which in it’s absence will cause hardship and turmoil in families where members have lost work in this recession and can’t yet find the next job …. some 4 million unemployed are so affected …

  4. Submitted by Jim Camery on 08/04/2009 - 12:00 pm.

    Keep after her, Karl. Her shortcomings go way beyond crazy pronouncements and posturing – her votes and actions have real consequences for people. 2010 could be a very good year.

  5. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 08/04/2009 - 01:05 pm.

    Hydrocephalus is not limited to juveniles. Head injuries can contribute to developing the condition.

    Many military veterans have sustained head injuries, including young veterans with recent deployments to combat zones where IEDs cause many traumatic brain injuries that sometimes go undiagnosed.

    Why would Congresswoman Bachmann want to promote awareness and then not fund research for medical conditions that she’s so aware of??

  6. Submitted by Joel Jensen on 08/05/2009 - 03:25 pm.

    Mr. Swift:

    Perhaps you could give us some details of the history of Rep. Bachmann’s many vigorous attempts to get specific research funding in the federal budget for hydrocephalus included in any bills. (Or does she just talk a good game on this issue and do nothing in Congress.)

    And while he’s about it, maybe some more details on the HHS funding bills that federally funded “ripping living children from the womb, quite literally limb from limb” during President Bush’s administration, especialy during the years during which the House or Senate (or both) were controlled by Republicans.

    For ease of reference:

  7. Submitted by Christopher Candy on 06/14/2011 - 08:44 am.

    I hope she is serious about supporting efforts for research and a cure for this brain Disease …. I hope she is not like the others in just talking just to get political support for President …. we need a voice on the State house front for hydrocephlaus research and support …and a child growing up and now an adult with hydrocephlaus, I can tell you that it has been a hard battle with this brain condtion .. but we need research and support to find a cure … because I never know when the next shunt malfuction might be the one that ends my life without current up to date treatment or a cure.

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