THE BLOG

The Vice President Is Working On a "Moon Shot" To Cure Cancer. We Have a Rocket Ship Ready To Go.

01/28/2016 01:53 pm ET

In President Obama's final State of the Union Address, a new "moon shot" to cure cancer was launched into orbit, and Vice President Joe Biden is at the controls.

The talk of a "moon shot" is the exact mindset that we need -- and America can and should lead the way. And the good news is, we're already half way there.

Since 2013, we have been working together as a Republican from Michigan and a Democrat from Colorado, united in the belief that the country needs and is ready for a renewed effort to support biomedical research and harness innovation to turn discoveries in a lab into the treatments and cures that change patients' lives. We are passionate about finding faster cures and better treatments for diseases that touch every family in America, including the Vice President's and our own.

Our legislative approach was different. We listened. We engaged. We solicited input. We drafted. We listened some more. It was an inclusive, unique, transparent process, a comprehensive effort that criss-crossed the country, engaging experts in every related field, from academia to government to private industry and everything in between. And most importantly, we listened to patients.

Our efforts culminated in legislation that would safely speed the discovery, development and delivery of new drugs and devices: H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House 344 to 77 six months ago. The bill invests nearly $9 billion in new resources for a medical research innovation fund at the National Institutes of Health that will target diseases for which there is not yet a cure. 21st Century Cures also supports the Food and Drug Administration with new resources to keep pace with medical innovation, including new drugs and devices that need expert review. This bill also brings the patient perspective to the heart of research and development, and seeks to foster better use of personalized medicine and more participation in clinical trials.

The bill is now in the Senate, and movement is on the horizon. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently announced that the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has scheduled a series of votes on its medical innovation package. With continued commitment and effort, the House and Senate can work together to get a final bill to the president's desk this year, making that "moon shot" within reach.

Vice President Biden will surely offer some other new ideas that encourage more collaboration among scientists and use the latest genomic technology to end the scourge of cancer. We welcome those ideas as the White House's effort fits well with the framework we developed and further underscores something we all agree on -- we can't wait any longer. Every day we don't act is another day we lose loved ones to disease and people suffer needlessly. We must act, and we must act now.

We can debate ideas and get input forever, but that won't cure a disease or save a life. The American people expect Congress to come together on matters that can improve lives. The 21st Century Cures legislation and the Biden "moon shot" initiative together can fulfill that promise.

We look forward to working with Vice President Biden and our colleagues in the Senate to get this done in the next several months. The recent announcements by the president and Senate are just the latest positive milestones in the effort to give patients and their loved ones more hope. But we have much work left to do to make 21st Century Cures a reality.

The vice president is working on a "moon shot" to cure cancer, and we've got a rocket ship ready to go. Momentum to deliver #CuresNow gets stronger by the day -- working together, we'll get the job done.

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