Cancer research at 'crisis point,' advocates say

Advocates have pushed for months to highlight how cuts would hamper federal programs, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which was the focus of Tuesday's briefing.

"It is imperative that funding for medical research through the NIH be regarded as a priority investment for our nation,” said Jon Retzlaff, managing director of the AACR's Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs.

"The frustrating reality is that our ability to deliver on the promise of science to patients is in great jeopardy due to both a decade of stagnant budgets and the looming threat of sequestration. We have reached a crisis point."

Sequestration would cut the NIH budget by 5.1 percent. United for Medical Research, an advocacy coalition, has estimated that the spending axe could result in the loss of 402,000 jobs and $57.8 billion in U.S. economic output.

An official with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) said Tuesday that only about 15 percent of new grant applications receive funding.

Douglas Lowy, deputy director of the NCI, cautioned that government-funded research "is the main engine of discovery that will lead to future breakthroughs in the fight against cancer."

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) announced Tuesday that Democrats will unveil a legislative package to replace the sequester by the end of the week.

Reid's Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (Ky.), dismissed the move and predicted that the sequester would take effect.

"The majority is going to offer a proposal. I anticipate that we will have an alternative proposal. That however doesn’t lead to a solution. That just leads to a couple of votes," McConnell said.