What a difference a year makes.
At the end of 2016, then President Obama signed off on the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan effort that appropriated $4.8 billion for cancer research and more than $1 billion to address the opiod addiction problem in the U.S.
To give you an idea of what bipartisanship looks like – it passed the House 392-26 and the Senate by a vote of 94-5.
It provided spending increases for the National Institutes for Health through 2020, and as part of that, increases for the National Cancer Institute.
Today, a year and a month later, Congress can barely agree on when they’ll meet again to vote on even a temporary spending package to keep the government open.
Even worse, President Trump’s 2018 budget calls for a 25% cut in spending to the National Institutes of Health, and more than $1 billion being cut from the National Cancer Institute.
A Senate bill proposed by Sen. Dick Durbin that would allow larger spending increases for the NIH, Center for Disease Control, the Department of Defense’s health program, and the Veterans Administration medical and prosthetics through 2021 is stuck in Senate Budget Committee hearings.
Already, the Washington Post is declaring 2018 as another year of inaction and gridlock.
Meanwhile, more than 14 million people currently living with cancer – according to the CDC – wait on the sidelines, as promising research is halted by lack of funding.
For us, gridlock isn’t a matter of frustration, it’s a life or death issue.
Yes, progress is being made each day in the war on this disease. Today, for example, Swedish researchers announced they’ve found a way to stop a protein that helps breast cancer cells get the energy they need to proliferate. Sweden gets it.
According to the NCI, there are more than a dozen bills that address cancer issues sitting in committees. None of them are making headlines. People aren’t sitting outside of representatives offices demanding that funding be restored. Maybe a handful of us are emailing or calling our elected officials asking that more be done, our voices being drowned out by partisan bickering that’s erupted in the past year.
I don’t know how to bring civility back to politics. But I don’t intend to wait on the sidelines while each side hurls meaningless rhetoric at each other. Nor should you.
I’ll be spending the day, calling and emailing my representatives, letting them know it’s time to get research moving again. It’s time to find a cure. Because the answer is just sitting there, waiting for us. And I’m dying to find it.
Want to help?
Click here to find bills that are stuck in committee
Click here to ask your representative to do something to move a bill forward.