Biden: 'Trust me' on Congress funding cancer research

Biden: 'Trust me' on Congress funding cancer research
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Vice President Biden on Monday hinted that GOP leaders in Congress have already agreed to “significant increases” in cancer research funding later this year.

“Congress is stepping up. Trust me,” Biden told some of the nation’s leading cancer researchers at an event at the White House.

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Biden, who lost his oldest son to brain cancer last year, has led the Obama administration’s initiative known as the “cancer moonshot” since January.

The White House has called for $1 billion to jump-start new research, though Biden did not say whether the GOP-led Congress planned to match that amount.

He did say the funding boost would take place over a decade, helping to shield the new money from Congress’s year-after-year funding fight.

“We will get — I predict to you — significant increases in funding from this year, from this Congress, and we’ll get a commitment to keep that commitment going for 10 years,” Biden said in a personal speech in which he formally released a report from his cancer moonshot task force.

Any new money to fight cancer would be included in this year’s spending bill, which will not be finalized until after Congress returns following the elections on Nov. 8.

GOP leaders in both chambers have already demonstrated support for cancer research funding boosts, largely through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Both health appropriations committees approved bills with large funding increases, though neither is on track to become law and are instead more likely to become part of a larger spending package in December.

Biden, who spent nearly 40 years in the Senate before becoming vice president, joked to the oncologists and researchers in the room, “I may not know a lot about science, but I know more about Congress than anyone you know.”

With a nod to Republicans in Congress, Biden added that cancer research has become “the last bastion of genuine, true bipartisanship.”

Biden’s remarks drew similarly positive reaction from Republicans.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) released a statement praising Biden for helping move the U.S. healthcare system toward “a once-in-a-generation, transformational opportunity to change the way we treat disease.”

Upton authored the bipartisan House bill, called 21st Century Cures, which is considered one legislative possibility to meet the funding request for Biden’s task force. That bill has been held up in the Senate, however, because of funding disputes.

“We’re on the cusp of something magical. Together, we will get this done,” Upton wrote in a statement touting his bill.