​​Cancer Policy Monitor: Jan. 3, 2017     

21st Century Cures Act Now Law     

On Dec. 13, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures), into law. The expansive bill, which passed both the U.S. House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, aims to speed the discovery and development of new therapies to patients, and also seeks to address challenges in health care delivery. The final legislation was the product of more than two years of thoughtful, diligent, and bipartisan discussions in both the House and Senate, and a tremendous outreach and educational effort on the part of the medical research and patient advocacy communities.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has been monitoring Cures and meeting with key members of Congress about this landmark legislation from the very beginning. Our top priority in the legislation was additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The final legislation provides $4.8 billion for the three signature Obama administration research programs – Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, renamed the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot,” the BRAIN Initiative, and the Precision Medicine Initiative. Specifically, the bill includes $1.8 billion over seven years in supplemental funding for cancer research, with $300 million available for the current fiscal year. This infusion of funds will enable the National Cancer Institute to fund Moonshot projects and initiatives.

It is vitally important that NIH also receive robust, sustained, and predictable funding increases through the regular appropriations process. Therefore, the funding that is provided for the specific initiatives that are included in 21st Century Cures must supplement, not supplant, annual appropriations to the NIH, according to the AACR.

Beyond funding, the Cures bill includes other significant provisions that will have an impact on cancer research and drug development. These include:

  • A new program to support young investigators at the NIH;
  • Language to encourage health disparities research and greater inclusion of underrepresented populations in clinical trials;
  • The establishment of an Oncology Center of Excellence at the FDA;
  • Establishment of a process for the qualification of biomarkers and other drug development tools;
  • The inclusion of patient experience data in drug development;
  • The reauthorization of a priority review voucher program to encourage development of new therapies for pediatric diseases, including cancer; and,
  • An expansion of hiring authority at the FDA to assist the agency in recruiting and retaining staff members with the required scientific expertise.

Immediately after Cures passed in the Senate, the White House issued a statement noting that “we are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it.” This echoed the statement released by the White House following passage of the bill in the House, which noted that this “critically important legislation responds to the vice president’s call for a moonshot in cancer research by investing $1.8 billion in new resources to transform cancer research and accelerate discoveries.”

In addition to meeting with congressional offices to build support for 21st Century Cures, the AACR sent a letter to members of Congress expressing its support for the bill, specifically supporting funding for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot. The AACR also released press statements following House and Senate passage of the bill, as well as on the day President Obama signed the bill into law.

Looking ahead, the AACR stands ready to work with both sides of the aisle on behalf of cancer patients and survivors everywhere. We’re grateful to President Obama and Vice President Biden for their dedication in the fight against cancer throughout this past year, culminating in Tuesday’s signing of the new law, and we call on President-Elect Trump to exhibit the same kind of support over the next four years.

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U.S. House of Representatives Welcomes Over 50 New Members      

Jan. 3, 2017, marks the start of the first session of the 115th Congress with Republicans maintaining control of both the House and the Senate. The U.S. House of Representatives welcomes over 50 new members who join the returning members. Of the new members, three of the Republicans are from districts that had been represented by a Democrat in the previous Congress, while seven Democratic members come from districts that had been represented by a Republican.

Several incoming members have strong ties to and support for the cancer community. They include John Faso (R-NY), whose spouse is a cancer survivor, Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who are both cancer survivors, and Dwight Evans (D-PA) who served on the board of directors of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, among others. Over the next few weeks, the AACR Office of Science Policy and Government Affairs plans to meet with all incoming members to introduce them to the AACR and discuss ways in which the new Congress can support cancer research, patients, and survivors.

Below is a list of all the incoming members:

Republicans (Name, State/District)

Andy Biggs, Arizona 5
Matt Gaetz, Florida 1
Dan Webster, Florida 11
Brian Mast, Florida 18
Francis Rooney, Florida 19
Neal Dunn, Florida 2
John Rutherford, Florida 4
Drew Ferguson, Georgia 3
Jim Banks, Indiana 3
Trey Hollingsworth, Indiana 9
Roger Marshall, Kansas 1
James Comer, Kentucky 1
Clay Higgins, Louisiana 3
Mike Johnson, Louisiana 4
Jack Bergman, Michigan 1
Paul Mitchell, Michigan 10
Jason Lewis, Minnesota 2
Don Bacon, Nebraska 2
John Faso, New York 19
Claudia Tenney, New York 22
Ted Budd, North Carolina 13
George Holding, North Carolina 2
Lloyd Smucker, Pennsylvania 16
Brian Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania 8
David Kustoff, Tennessee 8
Jodey Arrington, Texas 19
Scott Taylor, Virginia 2
Tom Garrett, Virginia 5
Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin 8
Liz Cheney, Wyoming


Tom O'Halleran, Arizona 1
Ro Khanna, California 17
Jimmy Panetta, California 20
Salud Carbajal, California 24
Nanette Barragan, California 44
Lou Correa, California 46
Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware
Val Demings, Florida 10
Charlie Crist, Florida 13
Al Lawson, Florida 5
Stephanie Murphy, Florida 7
Darren Soto, Florida 9
Colleen Hanabusa, Hawaii 1
Brad Schneider, Illinois 10
Raja Krishnamoorthi, Illinois 8
Anthony G. Brown, Maryland 4
Jamie Raskin, Maryland 8
Jacky Rosen, Nevada 3
Ruben Kihuen, Nevada 4
Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire 1
Josh Gottheimer, New Jersey 5
Adriano Espaillat, New York 13
Tom Suozzi, New York 3
Dwight Evans, Pennsylvania 2
Vicente Gonzalez, Texas 15
Donald McEachin, Virginia 4
Pramila Jayapal, Washington 7

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U.S. Senate Adds Seven New Members, Readies for Busy Session     

The 115th Congress has seven new senators, including five Democrats and two Republicans. Many of incoming senators have a strong record of support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who all voted in favor of the 21st Century Cures Act at the end of 2016 during their time as members of the House of Representatives.

Van Hollen, in particular, who won the seat vacated by Senator Barbara Mikulski, has been a strong supporter of NIH. He was the Representative of Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which includes the NIH headquarters and intramural research campus in Bethesda, MD. He was the co-chair of the Childhood Cancer Caucus and served as the Ranking Member on the powerful House Budget Committee during the last Congress.

The first order of business for the Senate will be confirming President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees, including Representative Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

Below is a list of all of the incoming senators:

Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Todd Young (R-IN)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
​​Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

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Save the Date Sept. 13-14: Rally for Medical Research Hill Day 2017    

The fifth annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day will be held Sept. 14, 2017, in Washington, D.C., with a reception on the evening prior. Stay up-to-date on registration and hotel information by visiting the Rally website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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