U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) clashed with Republicans on the floor of the United States Senate this afternoon, objecting to their attempts to block renewal of the Autism Act.
Calling the act a national health need, Menendez jousted with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
“I don’t quite understand the opposition,” the New Jersey senator said. “You’re against disease specific legislation; you tell families they’re lobbyists. That’s cruel in my view and there’s no reason for it. I can only hope there’s a change of heart here.”
The GOP suggested a cave-in to lobbyists’ interests in renewing the act.
“When I hear the word ‘lobby’, that creates a perjorative description,” Menendez said. “I have a problem when I hear in this case ‘lobby’ when a universe of parents is trying to get the government’s attention to a disease that afflicts their children. I don’t care for listening to a lot of lobby here. Last time I checked, this is what democracy is all about.”
Menendez said the whole reason the legislation came to be was to coordinate government response to autism.