In another step forward in the battle against lung cancer, the House last week passed my bipartisan amendment to the $575.1 billion Defense Bill – which I supported – boosting special military research into lung cancer from $12 million to $14 million. The amendment simply transfers $2 million from the Secretary’s $32.26 billion general operation and maintenance fund to lung cancer research under the Defense Health Program. As I pointed out to my colleagues, that $2 million will hardly make a dent in the Secretary’s operating fund. But it will make an enormous difference in battling lung cancer – the most deadly of all cancers and killer of over 159,000 Americans, including many of our military men and women, every year.
During my remarks on the amendment, I thanked my colleagues for their kindness and expressions of support for my daughter Katherine, who was diagnosed with Non-Smoking Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer some 18 months ago. Katherine was in Washington for a visit last week – full of energy and life in no small part thanks to medical research that is giving hope to our family and so many others across our nation.
By way of background, Congress has already appropriated $5.3 billion for overall cancer research to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 2016, including $350 million for lung cancer research. The Pentagon’s lung cancer research program focuses on the particularly high incidence on lung cancer among active solders and military Veterans. In combat situations, they are routinely exposed to dangerous carcinogens such as asbestos, Chromium, diesel exhaust, radon and other airborne substances from burn pits, oil well fires and destruction of chemical weapons.
The Defense Bill also included a bipartisan amendment I introduced along with Republican Congressman Tim Walberg of Michigan that prohibits more taxpayer dollars from being spent and wasted on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Since it was created in 2011, the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund has proved itself to be poorly run and lacking in oversight over the $1.3 billion that has already been provided. Countless projects have been started but never completed, and tens of millions of dollars have gone unaccounted for. As I have said many times before, it’s time to put an end to this so-called “nation building” abroad and start rebuilding our roads, highways, bridges, harbors, pipelines, rail lines and airports here at home.
Rick Nolan represents Minnesota’s Eighth District in the United States House of Representatives. Princeton and Milaca are in the Eighth District.