Politicians have come under fire for participating in the viral campaign to raise money for ALS. The reason? Many of these politicians had previously cut funding for ALS research but are now throwing buckets of water on their head in support of the cause.
Even though President Obama turned down Justin Bieber's nomination, politicians such as John Barrow (D-GA), Robert Brady (D-Penn.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Minn.) have all stepped up to be soaked.
The ice bucket challenge, which includes dumping a bucket of ice-cold water on your head and\or donating for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, has raised $31 million for the ALS Association as of Wednesday.
However, politicians are being called out for being hypocritical since many of the politicians who accepted the challenge are the same ones who slashed funding for research in the first place.
"Since 2011, House Republicans have cut NIH funding by billions. And you thought dumping ice water on your head was cold," Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) tweets.
Since 2011, House Republicans have cut NIH funding by billions. And you thought dumping ice water on your head was cold.
— John Dingell (@john_dingell) August 20, 2014
The funding cuts were a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, where Republicans agreed to sign off on the debt celling to prevent the government from default. In order to get Republicans on board, Obama and Congressional Democrats agreed to budget cuts that would slash some agencies' budgets by 5 percent.
As a result, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had about $1.55 billion cut from its programs. While some of the funding was restored, programs from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke lost $92 million in funding from Fiscal Year 2012 to 2013. Consequentially, ALS research went from $44 million to $39 million. The ice bucket challenge raised enough money to fill the funding gap, but the money does not go to NIH but to the ALS Association for patient care and global research.
Many of the same politicians who voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 are the same ones who are now accepting the ice bucket challenge. But some are on board with ALS funding as long as it does not comes from federal taxes, and others had no choice but to sign the bill.
Nine Democrats and seven Republicans who voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 have completed the challenge. Rep. Paul Ryan also donated $100 along with accepting his challenge. Ryan also dumped a bucket of ice water on 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.
Since many of the politicians were forced to sign the bill, their participation in the challenge does not necessarily make them hypocrites. What's more alarmiing is how much of an impact budget cuts can have on the future of medical research.