Biden to Host Senators in Bipartisan Oval Office Meeting on Cancer

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President Joe Biden will host a bipartisan Oval Office meeting on cancer Wednesday, his first move as president to reinvigorate efforts he made during Barack Obama’s administration.

“Defeating cancer is of significant personal importance to the president, first lady and the vice president,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing. “Cancer is of course a disease that impacts, affects many Americans no matter their political affiliation.”

Biden, whose eldest son Beau died of glioblastoma in 2015, has spoken frequently about his desire to advance cancer research as president. First lady Jill Biden has listed the fight among her top policy priorities, and addressed the National Cancer Institute last month.

The NCI requested a $1.17 billion budget increase for the coming fiscal year, saying the funding would help address inflation costs and fund research on cancer prevention, detection, and treatment.

Three Democratic senators -- Patty Murray of Washington, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland -- as well as Republicans Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mike Crapo of Idaho, are slated to attend, the White House said. House Democrats Diana DeGette of Colorado and Anna Eshoo of California will also take part, as will Republicans Fred Upton of Michigan and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky.

As vice president during the Obama administration, Biden helped secure $1.8 billion over seven years in additional federal funds for his so-called “Cancer Moonshot” initiative which sought to double the rate of progress in cancer research.

Biden secured commitments from drugmakers to share research to speed oncology medicines to market. Private foundations and companies responded with pledges, including free transportation from ridesharing services to medical appointments, and IBM Corp. donating their Watson technology to the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist in preparing individual treatment plans.

Before running for president, Biden formed the Biden Cancer Initiative, an advocacy organization that focused on improving data standards and sharing and boosting access to cancer treatments as they became available. The group was shuttered when Biden decided to seek office. On the campaign trail, the president promised the fight would be a central focus of his administration.

“I promise you if I’m elected president, you’re going to see the single most important thing that changes America: we’re going to cure cancer,” Biden told a crowd in Iowa in 2019.

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