This post was written by Hatchet reporter Benjamin Kershner
After watching a single mother on his staff struggle with the challenges of raising her autistic son, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he was inspired to advocate for research in the developmental disorder.
Cantor, an alumnus, touted a bill Wednesday in the Jack Morton Auditorium that would take tax dollars away from presidential campaigns and conventions and put funding toward finding a cure for autism spectrum disorder.
“I see the struggle. I see how difficult it is,” Cantor said. “What more of a priority for the federal government than to provide a platform for research to provide the answers to people like that, so that they can have the kind of life that this blessed country of ours affords?”
The Republican, who represents Virginia’s 7th district in the House of Representatives, returned to campus for awareness and advocacy group Autism Speaks’ first national policy summit. Hosted by GW’s Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorder Initiative, the three-day conference also included speeches from Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. and GW Law School professor Lorri Unumb.
University President Steven Knapp, introducing Cantor, said GW serves as “an ideal location for convening important discussions on autism and its effects on individuals, families and communities not only in this nation but around the world.”
He added that more than 60 faculty members and five schools across the University are now involved with the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorder Initiative, which was founded in 2010.
Cantor also called on lawmakers and the scientific community to not “accept the status quo” of autism in the U.S.
“Medical research and the pursuit of discovery is nothing but a puzzle,” Cantor said, adding that the bipartisan Kids First Research Act would “be the final piece that actually finished the puzzle.”