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Department Of Labor, Health And Human Services, And Education, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - July 19, 2007)

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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I appreciate that. I will shorten my remarks to approximately 30 seconds to say, I thank the chairman for accepting the amendment. I thank the previous subcommittee chairmen as well for accepting similar which we have done in the past, which simply says to set priorities. When we have Federal agencies send Federal employees overseas for conferences, we should put a realistic limitation on it, and this one, I think, does, at 50 employees of any Federal Department or agency for any single conference occurring outside the United States.

Again, I appreciate the chairman's acceptance of the amendment.

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While this is an amendment that I have proposed to other appropriations bills, I believe it is especially important that it be included on this bill.

Since 2000, HHS has spent over $435 million on conferences and spent $88 million just last year. Government-wide spending in those same years was over $1.5 billion.

In 2002 HHS spent $3.6 million to send 236 persons to the AIDS conference in Barcelona.

In 2004 HHS spent $500,000 to send 140 persons to the AIDS conference in Bangkok.

In 2005 HHS sent 300 employees to a dioxin conference in Toronto.

Last year the agency sent delegations of 200 or more to 54 separate conferences.

Many of these conferences are now covered online, allowing interested parties to attend without expensive plane tickets, meals, and hotel rooms.

An identical amendment was included in the House-passed version of the FY05 appropriations bill but removed in conference. I cannot help but think of the possibly tens of millions of taxpayer money that could have been saved in the past few years had this language become standard.

I trust that the new chairman will work to include the amendment in the conference agreement--we must inject some sense into HHS. This amendment will only limit international conferences, just a small step in reigning in an agency that seems to think its job is to talk about problems instead of working to solve them.

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Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I will yield.

Mr. OBEY. Again, the same deal, if we accept the amendment. We are trying to help get Members out of here.

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I will. I will just extend that 30 seconds to approximately 1 minute, though, because I just want to make a point on this amendment.

I very much appreciate the chairman for accepting this amendment. What this amendment does, as we have said all along, is it sets priorities, and it does on two areas that are extremely important to the Fifth Congressional District and the State of New Jersey and the entire Nation as well. And that is that we set priorities by increasing funding in two very important areas.

One is to the National Cancer Institute for additional cancer research by $10 million. And another area of extreme importance to the State of New Jersey for the rising number of children being born with autism, to direct an additional $10 million for research in that area as well.

I will just give a couple of statistics: one in 150 children, and it used to be one in around 10,000, is now diagnosed with autism. Every day 67 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which translates into a new case almost every 20 minutes. Autism is becoming the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States. That was the purpose for putting that in these amendments, and I thank the chairman for agreeing with us to the importance and seeing that additional funds go to these very worthy causes.

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Mr. Chairman, I am offering an amendment that would take $49 million from an account that was zeroed out in the President's budget request, and transfer it to two Institutes at the National Institutes of Health that I believe need additional funding--one working to fight cancer, and one working to fight autism.

Since President Nixon unofficially declared war on cancer in his State of the Union Address of 1971, much progress has been made in the area of cancer research. Over the past three and one-half decades, science has continued to break down barriers in the fight against this disease. Today, cancer is no longer the mystery disease that it once was, and researchers know infinitely more about the prevention, detection, and treatment of the disease than ever before.

All this research is beginning to bear fruit. Fewer people died from cancer in 2004 than in 2003 and the American public is witnessing declining rates for most major cancer types, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. But there's much more work to be done.

I thank the chairman of the Appropriations Committee for increasing the budget of the National Cancer Institute in this year's bill. I just think that we can do a little more. And this is an obviously higher priority with far broader application to the American people.

We can also do a little more to fund research for a serious problem facing the country: autism.

According to Autism Now, the largest autism foundation in the country: 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism; every day 67 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which translates into a new case almost every 20 minutes; and autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in my home State of New Jersey, the rate of new autism spectrum disorder cases is the highest in the country. One in sixty boys in New Jersey is affected.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment would also increase the budget of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke by $10 million. This Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the organization within the Federal Government that is primarily responsible for organizing the research into autism.

The account that this amendment would take from was proposed to be eliminated entirely by the administration, as it has demonstrated to be duplicative and ineffective. My amendment retains some funding in that account, but reduces it. If these appropriations bills are about priorities, I ask that we make research on cancer and autism a priority, above duplicative and ineffective programs.

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Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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