Lawmakers disagree on whether to cook Big Bird

Sesame Street's Big Bird. Sesame Street's Big Bird. Matt Sayles/AP
There has been plenty of discussion over the looming cuts if sequestration actually goes down, and now everyone's favorite yellow winged beast has been pulled into the fray.

The National Institutes of Health could stand to face $2.5 billion in automatic cuts, according to the White House's sequester report. And that has left Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., none too pleased, saying an event held at National Press Club Thursday, hosted by United for Medical Research and Research!America that the cuts should be prioritized. Then he took a shot at public television's Big Bird.

"Now, I've been a big supporter of public television and public radio for decades. I supported them when I was a young mayor in my 20s. But if there comes a choice between Big Bird or cancer research - look, no matter how much you love Big Bird, Big Bird gets fried and sold for funds for NIH. I know that sounds crude."

Bilbray then went on to say "Wait until my grandchildren hear granddad said that," adding that his grandchildren would benefit more from the federal government investing in medical research.

Later on, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., showed up to support protecting NIH funding and did the ol' comedic callback.

"Brian Bilbray was already here. Republican, Democrat, we agree on this issue. We disagree on whether or not Big Bird has to get fricasseed," he said, to a burst of laughter from those assembled. "A little bit of a disagreement we have."

Most folks in Washington predict that Congress will delay the $1.2 trillion in cuts before year's end, but that hasn't stopped health care lobbyists from hitting the Hill this week to raise the alarm over looming cuts.
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