Telephone conversation with Dr. Maurice Visscher - June 10, 1966.
Dr. Dennis: I've got some wind of what's going on. Tell me, I had an idea and I wanted to know how it would sound
to you. I gather that maybe one of our troubles at the moment is trying to get Senator Hill to push hard for hearings. Is
Dr. Visscher: No, I don't think so. It was, but you know that the Senate Commerce Committee has worked up a bill and
they are going to introduce it into the Senate next week. It has not yet been transmitted. It is true that Magnuson said
that one reason he insisted on putting in part of the old Monroney amendment was because Lister Hill had shown no inclination
to call for any hearings. What is your idea?
Dr. Dennis: Maybe we don't have time. My idea was that the Society for Vascular Surgery had Lister Hill as a guest some
four or five years ago and he talked at our annual luncheon meeting and was most cordial about many things.
Dr. Visscher: He is cordial and he's our best friend in Congress. And it's still
Dr. Dennis: What I had thought was - would there be any virtue in having him come. I don't know whether you could impose
on a Senator listening to something like this and the discussion that would go after it, and if you thought there was any
virtue in it that it might be worth while to try. My chief contact with him is dead, unfortunately.
Dr. Visscher: You know, Clarence, I'm glad you called because I'm in a terrible dilemma myself. The Monroney amendment
nominally were put in, you see. Actually they were very much watered down from what we were led to believe Monroney wanted.
The absolute exclusion of all animals under any kind of investigation from regulation is a huge concession.
Dr. Dennis: I understood that the antivivisectionists were really unhappy.
Dr. Visscher: The antivivisectionists came to us and wanted to know whether we
wouldn't - that is, they went to Harry Kingman in Washington, - and wanted to know whether we wouldn't join them
now in a unified fight to kill the Magnuson Bill on the floor of the Senate. But you know when your worst enemies come around
and say won't you join us now, you get a little suspicious.
Dr. Dennis: You certainly do.
Dr. Visscher: I'll tell you why they want it killed, or do you know?
Dr. Dennis: I think I do. Go ahead.
Dr. Visscher: They want it killed because they don't want to have the Congress be able to say "We've taken care
of the whole problem now; go home and shut up." The truth of the matter is that now what we have to decide is whether
we're going to be willing to accept the Department of Agriculture as the regulating agency for animals that are in our
laboratories prior to going on any kind of investigative work and have this be the end of the current crop of bills in Congress,
which is what they say it would be, or try to fight it, - I'm not sure we can win anyway, and then be immediately confronted
with terrific demands to go into the Rogers Bill and the Clark-Cleveland Bill, etc. You see, Lister Hill doesn't want
any hearings at all, and the main reason is that he doesn't want any bill to come out of the Senate that deals in any
way, shape, or manner, with regulation of scientific research. He's afraid that, if he takes up his own bill, that on
the floor of the Senate the Clark Bill could be substituted for it. And that he wouldn't have the strength to kill it.
The Clark Bill is before his Committee now, and you can be sure that he has resisted every move, and they've undoubtedly
put terrific heat on him, to hold hearings on the Clark Bill, and he won't do it. He knows, as a politician, what the
problem is, but if he holds hearings on his bill the Clark Bill can be substituted for it.
Dr. Dennis: Even a committee vote could do that, I suppose?
Dr. Visscher: He probably controls the committee, but he's afraid he couldn't control the Senate. See where the rub
Dr. Dennis: I'm aware of that. Really everything depends on exactly what is in this
revised Magnuson Bill, doesn't it?
Dr. Visscher: Have you seen a copy of it?
Dr. Dennis: No, I have not. Do you know where I can get a copy of it?
Dr. Visscher: Sure. I have a copy. I can send it to you. I don't have a copy of another important thing and won't
have it until next week, and that is the Committee Report, because I understand there are certain clarifications in the Committee
Report that will have the virtual force of law that are of importance to us.
Dr. Dennis: Do you think they are in our favor?
Dr. Visscher: That's what we're told.
Dr. Dennis: I suppose nobody should do anything until we can see that.
Dr. Visscher: This is my reaction at the moment. I don't think I'm going to even write anything to go to NSMR members
until next week. We won't see that Committee Report until, at the earliest, Monday, and perhaps not until Tuesday. It's
being written, you see. I've talked not with Jim Shannon but with Dave Tillson, who is Jim Shannon's legislative man,
and I'm sure he's reflecting Jim completely. The NIH is not going to fight the passage of this bill. Their strategy
is going to be to ask one of the friendly senators to get up and make a speech and in the form of
questions to Senator Magnuson, get Senator Magnuson to put into the Congressional Record the interpretations which are in
the Committee Report so as to make doubly certain that some of these things are covered.
Dr. Dennis: Is Magnuson pretty well re-educated?
Dr. Visscher: I think he is. I think Magnuson just wishes to God that he'd never seen this thing, and this is one reason
why I think that we ought not to refrain from looking at the possibility of taking the same stance that the NIH is taking.
They have made up their minds. The other thing is that Hill has made up his mind that he will not ask for the re-committal
of this bill to his Committee. Now the final thing is this, that if the regulation by the Department of Agriculture would
extend only to animals that were not under investigation, we're going to have one hell of a time convincing the public
that we shouldn't be able to live with that.
Dr. Dennis: Yes, we're going to have a hell of a time resisting further encroachments some time soon.
Dr. Visscher: There you have the real point. The question is which is the worst way. How is the resistance going to be hardest.
If we're to trust what some of the Congressmen have told us, namely that, if we don't object too strenuously to this,
they can assure us that this is all the legislation that we will ever have to deal with - for several years. We might be better
off because we could use those several years profitably.
Dr. Dennis: Yes after the pattern of your memorandum that you sent me.
Dr. Visscher: Yes. What do you think of that as a program?
Dr. Dennis: I think that's probably - I don't think you really have a choice, do you?
Dr. Visscher: Well, I begin to think so myself, that without the NIH back of us, without Lister Hill back of us, we can't
beat the rap anyway.
Dr. Dennis: That's right. I think we better appear to like it, provided this Committee Report is what it seems to be.
Dr. Visscher: Now I can tell you the AMA is going to fight it, but the AMA has fought everything. They never even approved
the Roybal Bill.
Dr. Dennis: I don't think the AMA is a very good ally.
Dr. Visscher: I know you're right, but I mention it because there will be some division in our ranks,
Dr. Dennis: One of my chief pleas is not to have the divisions. I don't think we have a choice, at least until we know
what's in the report.
Dr. Visscher: I don't think we're going to try to make a decision at this juncture. Certainly we're not going
to call everybody and say begin fighting, right now. This might be something we would have to rescind next week, and when
you stop to think about what the virtue would be of having the Congressmen who are just sick and tired to try to get. I've
spent most of the morning with Congressman Alex Olson who is our guest here at the University and I'm going to have dinner
Dr. Dennis: Is he a Minnesota Senator?
Dr. Visscher: Yes. Congressman.
Dr. Dennis: He was on the Agriculture Committee.
Dr. Visscher: He was one of the two people who really saved the Poage Bill for us.
Dr. Dennis: Is that so?
Dr. Visscher: Yes, He and Albert Quie (he's a democrat and Albert Quie is a
Republican and this helped a lot) really did clean up the Poage Bill. As a matter of
fact that's why we're entertaining him today.
Dr. Dennis: I would think so. We've got to have some sort of harmonization of the
Senate and House Bills, and it seems to me that Poage and his Committee with Quie and Olson still are going to have a great
deal to say.
Dr. Visscher: They are. There's no doubt about that. You see, one of the things that I'm very hopeful about is that
we can somehow or other make friends with
Magnuson again. He is fundamentally on our side. There's no doubt about that. As his legislative assistant told our
friend Holt, Magnuson is actually hurt personally by having been accused of being the tool of the antivivisectionists.
Dr. Dennis: Yes, I've wondered if he wouldn't regret that. What do you think should be my particular pitch to this
group at the moment?
Dr. Visscher: Let's talk again next week. I don't want to give you any advice at this
juncture because it's just impossible for me to make up my mind as to what I want to say to our Board and find out what
the Board wants to say. I know only what one member of the Board, that's Hugh Hussey, is going to say, and he's going
to say we must fight. But I don't think that's going to be the majority view.
Dr. Dennis: He hasn't done that very successfully in the past.
Dr. Visscher: No, but in this particular case I am not going to make that decision. It wasn't as easy as with the Poage
Bill. I called up a few people, but I didn't try
to get a full Board action on that.
Dr. Dennis: This memorandum that you sent me that's entitled confidential, you saw what I had in this paper which, incidentally,
I thank you very much for going
through, I've put in here one extra segment, and I want to know if this is alright to
you or not. I've got the steps beyond those outlined above - things that these people could do that would be helpful -
might include "massive planned programs of talks before clubs, church groups, school convocations, etc. as W. W. L. Glenn
and associates at the Connecticut State Society did so successfully. Organization of laboratory inspection tours by Congressmen
and State legislators could give many of them a first understanding of what we have done and can do. Well organized news
conferences for science writers could be crucial as was the recent one at the University of Florida. NSMR is preparing further
plans." Is it a mistake to put that in?
Dr. Visscher: Oh no. Go right ahead.
Dr. Dennis: Well then I'll hold off until I talk to you next week. Thank you very much.