Press Room

Dr. Coburn: Mr. President, thank you for the recognition. And I would recognize the good work my colleague, the Senator from New Jersey, has done on this issue. I've been in the senate a little over six years and was cajoled into allowing this to pass the last time it passed. I have blocked every other disease-specific piece of legislation. And there's a reason for that. Both the last director of the NIH and the current one caution against us being specific in what we demand them to do, and there's a reason for that. Our science is changing enormously. Enormously. We are now at the molecular level. we're at the genetic level. We're at the immune level of thousands of diseases. What we research in diabetes now has prevalence for neurosciences. What we research in neurosciences now has prevalence for tons of other diseases. And what Dr. Zerhouni told me, said please don't do this. if there were two areas that I would increase spending in our budget it would be to the NIH and to the national science foundation, both of them. I recently reported out a report that was somewhat critical of the some of the spending on the national science foundation. We can do everything better. No one who is opposing reauthorization of this bill right now is opposed to autism research or the ideas behind it. What we are opposed to is tying the hands of the researchers and the directors at NIH and telling them what they should do and how they should do it. I would also dispute the fact that the money won't go away. The CR that we're going to consider this week will continue this funding at the level at what it is, that gives us plenty of time to work out our problems with this piece of legislation. We come to this debate in good faith. We recognize the emotional ties that are associated with such a devastating disease. As an obstetrician and pediatrician, I’ve diagnosed it. I've treated it. I've sat with the families as they have suffered through the consequences of this disease. I don't take it lightly. But I also don't take lightly our inability to make the clear choices and ratchet around the moneys for the NIH what we should do is say, NIH, here's your money. Go where the science helps the most people in the quickest way and the science leads us. And at a time when our country is desperate to get our fiscal house in order, what we want is the most efficient NIH What we want is non-duplicative grants at the NIH what we want is no fraud in the grants associated with autism, which have been published and people are in jail for. We want that eliminated. So we want the oversight on the NIH to be across the board in every area. Are you doing what we are asking to you do to spend the money wisely and what the science, what the science would tell you to do, not what any one particular interest group would tell us to do. So I would ask that, a unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s.1094, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, and that my amendment at the desk related to, requiring the secretary of HHS to identify and consolidate duplicative overlapping autism funding through the federal government be agreed to, the bill as amended be read a third time and passed and the motions to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, and any statements related to the bill be printed in the record.”

The Presiding Officer: Is there objection?

Sen. Menendez: Mr. President, I object.

The Presiding Officer: Objection is heard.

Dr. Coburn: I understand that. My commitment is to work with the senator from new jersey to try to solve this problem before any funding will change, and I don't think it's going to change. I would also note to my colleagues that last year we had over $450 billion appropriated by the appropriators that was not authorized for anything. There was no authorizations at all. So this money isn't going to go away. There's no hurry. There's no tragedy. We can continue and we can work as colleagues to try to solve our problems as well as meet the demands that the senator from new jersey thinks must be met. With that, I yield the floor.