On Monday, Congressman Dave Reichert (R, 8th District) took the Ice Bucket Challenge, the summer's hottest amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-related internet trend.
For both of you who've avoided reading about this trend yet, I think it goes like this: Someone challenges you to dump a bucket of ice on your head and videotape it. Then you do it and you don't have to donate money to the ALS Association to help find a cure for the neurodegeneritive disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. But if you don't do it, then you do have to donate to charity? Or maybe you dump the bucket and donate to charity? Whatever the fuck, it appears to be working. This morning, the ALS Association announced that it has received $41.8 million in donations since July 29. As The New York Times reports:
More than 739,000 new donors have given money to the association. That’s more than double the $19.4 million in total contributions the association received during the year that ended Jan. 31, 2013, according to a filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
So, like I said, Congressman Reichert took the challenge earlier this week:
(If you watched the video to the very end, you'll know that Reichert finished with a challenge to Seattle's 12th Man, which means Reichert either hates charity or doesn't know that the 12th Man is fictional.)
Recently, Reichert's congressional democratic challenger Jason Ritchie released a statement about Reichert's feel-good public drenching:
While I commend Rep. Reichert for joining in this cause, and for getting his hair drenched in the process, it is important for the voters to recognize that Rep. Reichert voted to cut BILLIONS of dollars from research funding to the National Institute of Health, the largest source of ALS funding in the world.
Rep. Reichert voted to pass HR 5652 - Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. This resulted in $1.6 billion of cuts to the NIH and defunded valuable research programs that could have been used to find treatments or a cure to ALS.
I have called Reichert's office for comment because I think it is funny.
UPDATE: Reichert's camp has responded: "Congressman Reichert has consistently demonstrated during his time in Congress that he is committed to not only supporting lifesaving research through the National Institute of Health (NIH), but also measures that improve the health care of those who are currently battling cancer and other life threatening diseases like ALS. Each year, Congressman Reichert leads a bipartisan effort urging appropriators to strongly fund the NIH, and this year he initiated a bipartisan effort supporting strong funding for the ALS Research Program (ALSRP) at the Department of Defense which explicitly focuses on finding treatments for ALS."
The response continues after the jump.
Congressman Reichert leads these efforts because he knows that research conducted by the NIH and through the ALSRP hold the key to improving the care and medications available to treat, and one day cure, deadly cancers and diseases like ALS, which sadly took the life of his close friend and fellow Green River Detective Jim Doyon.
Thanks to Congressman Reichert’s leadership in support of medical research, Congress increased funding for the NIH by $1 billion in FY2014. Congressman Reichert has also supported recent increases in ALS research programs. For example, Congressman Reichert supported the Fiscal Year 2013 omnibus appropriations bill that increased funding for the ALSRP by 20% and included $6 million for the National ALS Registry. Congressman Reichert also supported the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill which increased funding for the National ALS Registry by 11% and continued the strong investment in the ALS Research Program at the DoD.
In addition to supporting medical research to discover future treatments, Congressman Reichert understands that patients who are courageously battling debilitating diseases like ALS need help today. That is why he supported legislation in March of this year that extended the Medicare therapy cap exceptions process, which ensures that ALS patients can continue to receive the therapy they need without worrying that their care won’t be covered because of an arbitrary cap Medicare places on the amount of services a beneficiary can receive in a year. This legislation also included important language to help drive the development of new diagnostic tests to identify the right treatments for people with ALS.
Congressman Reichert’s unwavering commitment to supporting medical research and improving care for those with ALS was recognized in 2007 by the ALS Association Evergreen Chapter who presented him with the “Spirit of Lou Gehrig” award for his determination to bring awareness of the battle against ALS to Congress as well as his ability to show initiative in supporting the ALS community. Congressman Reichert’s dedication to medical research is further demonstrated through his work to form the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers.
The misleading, inaccurate, and dishonest representation of Congressman Reichert’s record by our opponent is exactly what people in this country are tired of. Whether raising awareness through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or standing up for funding critical research in Congress, Congressman Reichert has demonstrated his commitment to representing the people of the 8th District and of Washington State.