Melvin R. Laird (b. 1922) served as a Republican congressional representative for Wisconsin's 7th district from 1953 to 1969. He was a member of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee for Defense and the Subcommittee for Labor - Health, Education, and Welfare. On the Labor-HEW committee, he worked closely with John E. Fogarty to expand federal funding for medical research and health facilities, especially at the National Institutes of Health. The two became a formidable bipartisan legislative team, and good friends as well. Laird left Congress to serve as U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1974, and oversaw the withdrawal of American forces from the Vietnam conflict.. In this interview, Laird discusses his early acquaintance with Fogarty; working on the Labor-HEW subcommittee together (including strategy and tactics for overcoming the resistance of fiscally conservative colleagues); the importance of appropriations hearings, and the role of advocates such as Mary Lasker; establishing regional cancer centers; establishing the National Library of Medicine; attending the World Health Organization assemblies with Fogarty; establishing the Fogarty International Center; the origins of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP); having dinner with Fogarty the night before he died; their ongoing bipartisanship during their years in Congress.
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