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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, we are talking about the Wellstone Mental Health Act. Senator Domenici and Paul Wellstone worked in this area and were leaders in mental health parity. There are now 67 cosponsors of this legislation. For a number of reasons, we have not been able to get this matter either scheduled or considered.

As I understand what Senator Domenici is now saying, from his conversations with the Republican leader, we will have some assurance that we will have this matter before the Senate.

I just talked with the chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Gregg, who said he would make this a first order, a priority in the next session.

I think what the community is looking for is assurance there would be Senate action. I understand from Senator Domenici he is fully committed to work and make sure the Senate is going to have an opportunity to address this issue in the early weeks of this next session. Am I correct?

Mr. DOMENICI. Absolutely. There is no diminution of interest on my part. I started this many years ago. We did pass it. Now we have to pass it on a full scale, and we will. We have to wait now for reasons out of our control, but it will get done early next year.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, with the assurances of the Senator from New Mexico as a senior member of this body and one all of us know, I have great confidence in him and know of his strong passion in this area. I think it is enormously important for our communities across this country, and I certainly welcome those assurances.

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