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Congressional Update

-Benjamin Krinsky, PhD

On March 8, the Senate approved a package of six fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations bills by a vote of 75-22. Having already been approved on March 6 by a 339-85 vote in the House of Representatives, this set of bills heads to President Biden for his signature, thereby averting a partial government shutdown. The six spending bills included in the measure will be funded through the remainder of the fiscal year. The six bills are: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Energy and Water Development; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development.

In a victory for cancer prevention, problematic policy directives related to menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars were removed from the six-bill package before its passage. The Agriculture-FDA bill drafted by the House several months ago included language that would have blocked FDA funding for the implementation of bans on menthol in cigarettes and characterizing flavors in cigars. This language was not included in the final spending measure. However, though FDA retains its regulatory authorities, its proposed menthol ban has been delayed for several months.

The conclusion of this part of the FY 2024 budget follows many months of difficult negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over levels of spending and contentious policy riders. The most recent breakthrough came on February 28, when congressional negotiators announced that they had reached a compromise on policy language that would allow the appropriations process to move forward. To give the appropriators time to finalize their bills following this agreement, Congress passed its fourth continuing resolution (CR) on March 1 to keep the government open. This CR, like previous iterations, set two staggered deadlines. Under the March 1 CR, six bills were funded through March 8; Congress met this deadline by passing the six-bill package described above. The remaining six bills are funded by the CR through March 22. This second set of six bills represents a much larger share of the federal discretionary budget compared to the first set (approximately $1.2 trillion vs. $468.7 billion, respectively). Congress now turns its attention to finishing the rest of the FY 2024 budget by the March 22 deadline. The second set of appropriations bills includes Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, the bill that funds the National Institutes of Health, and other health programs. The AACR will continue to advocate for Congress to finish FY 2024 appropriations with the highest possible levels of support for biomedical research and education programs.

2024 AACR Annual Meeting Updates: Regulatory Science and Policy Track  

There is still time to register for the AACR Annual Meeting 2024! The meeting will take place at the San Diego Convention Center, April 5-10. A major highlight of the Annual Meeting is the Regulatory Science and Policy track, featuring the newest director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Kim Rathmell, and Dr. Danielle Carnival, deputy assistant to President Biden for the Cancer Moonshot, in a discussion on cutting-edge issues in cancer therapy development. Learn more about each session by following the links below.  

All times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Saturday, April 6 

Sunday, April 7 

Monday, April 8 

Tuesday, April 9  

AACR Holds Eighth Annual Early-Career Hill Day

-Matthew Gontarchick

On February 27, the AACR held its ninth annual Early-career Hill Day (ECHD), which brought together AACR associate members to advocate for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This event is an important opportunity for early-career investigators to engage in advocacy at the federal level and educate lawmakers on the promise and progress in cancer research. This year, 20 participants from 17 states held over 50 meetings with congressional offices, where they spoke with members and staff about their research and the importance of increased funding for the NIH and the NCI. This year, participants asked Congress to continue to prioritize medical research by providing the highest possible funding increase for the NIH’s foundational work in FY 2024.

In conjunction with Hill Day, ECHD participants and the AACR led a National Day of Action, encouraging early-career scientists and others in the cancer research space to communicate with their members of Congress via email or social media in support of increased NIH and NCI funding. Dozens of messages and pictures were shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms accompanied by the hashtags #AACRontheHill and #FundNIH.

Recording Available: FDA-AACR Workshop on Optimizing Dosages for Oncology Drug Products 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) hosted a hybrid workshop, February 15-16, 2024, at the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel about cancer therapy dosage selection that takes a more holistic approach instead of relying on the maximum tolerated dose. Approximately 4,500 people tuned in to this workshop online or in-person, emphasizing the broad interest in this important topic.  

A recording of the workshop, along with the slide deck, is now available on the workshop website.

Registration Open for the 2024 AACR-AACI Hill Day

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) invite you to Capitol Hill on Thursday, May 16, 2024. This Hill Day will bring cancer center directors, researchers, physician-scientists, cancer survivors, and other advocates to Capitol Hill to build support for a strong federal investment in biomedical research, and cancer research in particular, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Learn more and register for the AACR-AACI Hill Day.