Sen. Ted Cruz makes emotional plea for more Alzheimer's research funding

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got emotional Tuesday during a subcommittee meeting on Capitol Hill while making a personal plea for the federal government to spend more funding to cure diseases like Alzheimer's, which took the life of his grandmother.

Cruz, a generally brash and outspoken lawmaker, turned passionate after he attacked the government’s current spending levels for diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer.

"We’re spending over $1.1 trillion a year in treatment costs, and we’re investing collectively about $9.9 billion in medical research," he said, according to The Hill. "Does that ratio seem appropriate, not only in terms of dollars and cents, but also in terms of the human lives that are dealing with the terrible consequences?"

Cruz, also a presidential candidate, was joined by several of his Republican colleagues in urging a reform of the Food and Drug Administration.

The panel hearing was also attended by former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who left office last year to fight prostate cancer. Coburn called the recently passed House bill – the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes an overhaul of the FDA – a "good start," as it has bipartisan backing, but added that the Senate’s companion bill needs to focus much more on payment and intellectual property reforms.

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"If we really want to get new advances and if we really want to hurry it up ... then what we have to do is change intellectual property and change the way we pay for it," Coburn said.

The so-called "Cures" Act has caused worry among many conservative lawmakers in the Senate, who say that any funding increase should be discretionary and require Congress to revisit it each year.

The bill also includes additional funding for the FDA, an agency that Coburn said suffers from deep financial problems.

"I think we’re way underfunded, but I think we need to have better oversight because they make some errors that are just plain stupid," Coburn said.

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