In a rare bipartisan vote the House of Representatives approved legislation boosting federal research efforts to combat cancer and other diseases, including $1.8 billion in funding for Vice President Joe Biden’s “cancer moonshot” initiative.
The “21st Century Cures Act” passed 392-26.
“It’s personal – people have family members with Alzheimer’s, people have family members who died of breast cancer. They see children with these awful diseases. This is the answer,” Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton, the author of the bill, told reporters on Wednesday.
Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, who partnered with Upton, stressed the overwhelming margin of the vote.
“We have strong majorities from Democrats and Republicans in the House,” she said, noting that although a couple of senators raised concerns with a few provisions she expected it to pass early next week when it comes up for a vote in the upper chamber.
The vice president has been making calls to help generate support, she added.
Biden, who lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to cancer in 2015, outlined some of the plans for the Obama administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative at a June meeting at Howard University in Washington.
There are 14 million new global cases of cancer a year, and if the current rate of research progress doesn’t change, the rate will continue to rise precipitously, he said.
Biden has spent the past year traveling the country, visiting leading cancer centers and meeting with experts to better understand what the government can do to speed up the process.
“The impediment isn’t the lack of the gray matter genius (of cancer researchers) and the ingenuity in terms of new drugs and new treatments, et cetera; it’s all this stuff that gets in the way,” Biden said at the meeting. “The only thing I’m good at in government is getting things out of the way.”
CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.