For his continuing dedication to medical legislation in both Houses of Congress.
With this Public Service Award we honor a distinguished legislator—and a leader in both Houses of the United States Congress in the fight against disease and premature death.
In January 1937, Claude Pepper became a member of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. In that very same year, he was a Senate co-sponsor of the legislation creating the first of the categorical National Institutes of Health—the National Cancer Institute.
During World War II, he chaired the Senate Subcommittee on Wartime Health and Education, whose report resulted in the ultimate creation of additional categorical National Institutes of Health. Senator Pepper was the chief Senate sponsor of the legislation for the National Institute of Mental Health in 1946; the National Heart Institute in 1948; the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Blindness and the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases in 1950.
A measure of his vision is reflected in the fact that when the Pepper Committee held hearings in 1944 on the extent of illness and medical research in this country, the National Institute of Health was spending only $2,400,000 a year in research and training programs for all disease categories. By 1967, the National Institutes of Health has grown to include eight additional, internationally renowned Institutes, and the former National Institute of Mental Health, now separately reorganized as the Bureau of Mental Health. Their present annual budget, including their research and training grants, is in excess of one and a half billion dollars.
Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1962, Claude Pepper has continued his efforts to prolong the prime of life through medical research. He was a joint sponsor of the monumental Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1963, which has opened up new vistas of hope for millions of mentally ill and mentally retarded.
Senator and Representative Pepper, for your continuing service to medical legislation in both Houses of Congress, and your dedicated zeal against the diseases which erode our nation’s economic and physical strength, this Albert Lasker Public Service Award is given.