Obama seeking $1 billion for 'cancer moonshot'

Obama seeking $1 billion for 'cancer moonshot'
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President Obama will ask Congress for nearly $1 billion to ramp up cancer research as part of the administration’s proposed budget that will be unveiled next week.

The funding would directly support Vice President Biden’s “moonshot” bid to cure cancer — a massive government-wide effort that was announced during last month’s State of the Union address.

“With something as big as cancer, we have to think big,” a White House official told reporters in a background briefing Monday.

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The administration plans to immediately use $200 million of existing funding at the National Institutes of Health in 2016, while requesting $755 million more for the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration next year.

Other funding would also go to the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the administration said.

The White House disclosed its cancer research requests the same day that a cancer-fighting task force, led by Biden, will meet for the first time. His task force, comprised of a dozen senior administration officials and Cabinet secretaries from five departments, intends to make a “decades worth” of advancements against cancer in five years.

Biden, who lost his son to cancer last year, has made it a personal priority to speed up the path to a cure for cancer.

“In any type of major ambitious efforts, unless you set your sights high, you’re almost guaranteed to not get to the type of success that we all want,” the administration official said. “There’s a reason the vice president is aspiring big, it’s the only way we’re going to push the envelope and make this kind of progress.”

The cancer funding is the first item disclosed from the White House’s budget, which will be officially unveiled Feb. 9.

That document is largely symbolic, though the cancer research funding request could gain traction, even in the GOP-controlled Congress.

Last year, both chambers agreed to boost funding for the NIH by more than $200 million — a level that the administration hopes to maintain in 2017.