Democratic Senator and later Congressman Claude Pepper of Florida was one of Lasker's first and most important allies
in Congress. In the summer of 1945, Mary and her husband prevailed upon Pepper, a friend from Florida vacations, to hold
hearings in pursuit of larger appropriations for research on cancer, mental health, and aging. The hearings not only presaged
Mary Lasker and Florence Mahoney's research interests over the next four decades, but set a pattern for their congressional
lobbying. Through her connection to the Miami Daily News and the Cox newspaper chain, Florence secured editorial endorsements
in Pepper's home state of Florida. Mary made campaign contributions to Pepper and supplied him with statistics on diseases
that caused the greatest mortality. She suggested that Pepper recite these statistics, have expert witnesses (supplied by
Lasker) testify to the need for more medical research--the first such testimony in Congress--then put government officials
on the spot by asking them how much money their departments were spending on these diseases, and why they were not asking
for more. Hearings orchestrated by Lasker over the next two decades would follow this same pattern.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (77,297 Bytes)
1947-06-28 (June 28, 1947)
United States Senate
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Legislation as Topic
Health Care Reform
Mary Lasker and the Growth of the National Institutes of Health
Letter from Mary Lasker to Claude Pepper (February 24, 1947)
I had a private and perfectly thrilling luncheon yesterday with Doctor Urey. Two of my men were with me as we talked and our
discussion was most enlightening to me. After the luncheon I called Mr. Biffle and several Senators out and they had a very
interesting talk with Doctor Urey and all warmly thanked me for the privilege. I told him afterward I was a little selfish
as I had not had a chance to talk with many of the atomic scientists and I was anxious to drink as deeply as possible of his
knowledge, but I assured him next time he came I would get a group together to discuss the whole atomic bomb situation and
another subject close to his heart -- and the only way of controlling the atomic bomb -- world federation. For all this, of
course, I am deeply thankful to you.
I wanted you to know also that we had an excellent conference with Senator Bridges on Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock.
We agreed that when another appropriation bill comes over from the House, the Public Health Service and one or more of the
group of doctors at the conference should appear and form ally make a record in justification of the amount recommended by
the group, $2,900,000, I believe. Senator Bridges will try to get the whole amount into the appropriation bill. If he cannot
get the whole amount, of course, he will get all he can. I believe we have made a little beginning toward getting some funds
in the heart research field to which also you have grandly contributed.
Tell Albert we are still. remembering and talking about his great speech to us. It was an immense pleasure to us all to have
you both here.