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Unanimous Consent Requests - S. 1094 - Autism

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I wish to commend my colleague for his attention to this issue. Autism is a very difficult issue for many families, and the incidence of autism in our country is growing. I am thankful Congress, in its wisdom, a number of years ago, established agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, where we have scientists and physicians and many others who are dedicating themselves to researching not just autism but cures for many diseases.

I appreciate again my colleague bringing this up, but I am afraid this is another example of political good intentions having many unintended consequences. The lobby to support autism is definitely very strong, and we appreciate that, but there are many diseases that children and people throughout our country face. We have put experts in place to determine where we can spend the money we allocate for medical research, and we need to leave that to the experts.

We have seen unintended results when our government tries to pick winners and losers. We tried to do it in the solar business 1 year or so ago. There are many companies in the solar business, but we picked one, and we didn't exactly know what we were doing. We gave $ 1/2 billion dollars to an effort that turned out not to be the best place to send taxpayer money.

Autism research will continue, and I think that is something we need to make very clear. The people we have put in charge of doing medical research will continue to do that medical research. The Congress does not have to decide how much we are going to spend on all the different diseases that affect Americans. There are many children facing diseases we don't understand, and they do not have the lobby many other diseases have. We cannot, from a political perspective, in an attempt to demonstrate our compassion, try to direct all the scientific and medical research from the floor of the Congress.

So I wish to make it clear that all of us who object support autism research. We will continue to try to make sure the funding for medical research is there. But it makes absolutely no sense for us, from where we sit, to try to play scientists and physicians and to know where the best outcomes will be and where we get the most for our money. If we are going to do that, we might as well decide what kind of medical equipment is going to be used or what kind of drugs are going to be used, and we certainly don't have that capability.

I am very thankful Dr. Coburn has taken up this issue for years and urged us to leave the decisions for medical research in the hands of those who understand it. Our job, as a Congress, is to continue to appropriate the money, which we will, for medical research. Autism research will continue, as well as research for many other diseases. Hopefully, we can make sure that funding is there because many families are suffering and we need to make sure we do our part in the research area.

So I welcome my colleagues in the majority bringing this bill to the floor for debate. We certainly are not blocking debate on this issue. But passing something such as this, without any debate and without any open vote, is not what Congress should be doing right now.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.


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