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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I thank Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain for their patience and persistence in allowing us to get to this vote. I think once I have discussed the bill for a moment, it might not seem as though it would have required much patience or persistence to get here, but it did. They have been very kind and very attentive, and I appreciate it.

The history of this amendment is that it began as a bill in the Senate. This bill passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee by unanimous consent. An identical bill passed through the House of Representatives under suspension. So in many respects it is noncontroversial.

I also thank Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Enzi of the HELP Committee for their help getting it through the HELP Committee unanimously and for clearing it for a vote here today on the floor.

The bill at this point has nearly 60 cosponsors. It has 18 Republican cosponsors, and I thank them individually and by name: Senators BLUNT, BOOZMAN, BROWN of Massachusetts, CHAMBLISS, COCHRAN, COLLINS, CRAPO, GRASSLEY, HELLER, HUTCHISON, ISAKSON, KIRK, LUGAR, MORAN, MURKOWSKI, RUBIO, SNOWE, and WICKER, in addition to all my Democratic cosponsors.

This is a bill that also has the support of the American Cancer Society, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Lung Cancer Alliance, and the American Association for Medical Research, as well as the American Association of Medical Colleges.

What the bill does is asks that the National Institutes of Health convene and evaluate a discussion about what we call recalcitrant cancers. This actually began as a pancreatic cancer research bill, but it became apparent that there were some other cancers that we group now as what we call recalcitrant cancers in that they have not responded to treatment and research, and they remain cancers for which there has been little progress and survivability. And because they are so deadly and so lethal, we are trying to direct a little more attention out of NIH toward research on these cancers.

For me, this has a personal component, as I know it does for many people who have been touched by pancreatic cancer. My mom died of pancreatic cancer, and I have a number of friends who have been touched by it in their families as well.

I know the distinguished Senator from Oklahoma has opposition to this. If he would like to state his piece, I will be delighted to yield the floor so he may do so now. I hope at the conclusion of his remarks we could move this by a voice vote rather than calling all of our colleagues back for another vote. But if he objects to that, then that is within his prerogatives.

I yield the floor.

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