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Sen. Blunt Talks Health Research And Guns During Kansas City Stop

Elle Moxley
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt visits MRIGlobal, a nonprofit research facility that receives some National Institutes of Health funding.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was at Kansas City-based MRIGlobal Tuesday to talk about the importance of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health.

NIH received an additional $2 billion in the omnibus spending bill that passed last month, a funding increase of 6.6 percent.

That’s the biggest increase in a decade, although Blunt pointed out that wasn’t hard to accomplish “because there hadn’t been an increase in NIH funding since 2003,” when Congress made a commitment to double funding for health research.

“And then once we got to the doubling, apparently everyone thought, ‘Goal reached, now we can do something else,’” Blunt said.

He said that diminished the research potential of NIH to cure diseases and improve the lives of families suffering from illness.

“Somebody told me once when everybody in your family is well, you’ve got lots of problems,” he said. “When someone in your family is sick, you’ve got one problem.”

At his appearance, Blunt also talked about the importance of treating mental health issues like other health issues. He did so on the same day President Obama announced he was taking executive action on guns that would include additional funding for mental health services.

Although Blunt is a long-time advocate of increased access to mental health services to combat gun violence, he said he and the president do not see eye-to-eye on the Second Amendment. Blunt said he didn't believe the president supports the right to keep and bear arms.

“I think his whole strategy of executive orders — which is often ‘the Congress should be part of this, but if they don’t act, I’ll do it myself’ — I don’t think that’s in the Constitution anywhere,” Blunt said.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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