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Mary LaskerMary Lasker
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38 million 500 thousand dollars to care for people who were already blind, just welfare aid alone. I was grateful to them for pointing this problem out to me, so I telephoned to Congressman Biemiller of Wisconsin, who was in charge of the legislation in the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee and asked him if he wouldn't like to introduce a blindness institute bill. Biemiller said, “Why, yes, I will.” This surprised me, this prompt agreement, and I said, “Well, you sound very cooperative, Andy; how do you happen to be so interested?” He replied to me quite simply, “My mother was blind.”

He did introduce the bill in the House, and as it was too late to have a separate bill introduced in the Senate, I asked Senator Murray, who was holding the hearings, as he was the Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, to include blindness in on the omnibus bill. It was included with the neurological diseases in an institute called the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Blindness, entirely as a result of my suggestion. The whole blindness thing was just done like that, because these men were all in sympathy with the idea.

But it came about after a big debate which Senater Pepper had with Norman Topping about the need for additional institutes, which Pepper naturally won.


I suppose, Mrs. Lasker, there was more latent feeling and sympathy for efforts in the realm of blindness than most anything else.

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