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Cancer Policy Monitor: May 14, 2024

Congressional Update

-Benjamin Krinsky, PhD

Congress has commenced the fiscal year (FY) 2025 appropriations process. As is customary, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have begun to hold a series of hearings to consider testimony from Executive Branch leaders about President Biden’s FY 2025 budget request. Over the next few months, it is expected that the appropriations committees in both chambers will, respectively, draft FY 2025 spending bills, which would have to be reconciled before a final FY 2025 budget is completed.

Under the current budget deal, non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2025 is constrained, capped at 1% above FY 2024 levels. Unless Congress votes to lift this cap, it will be difficult for appropriators to allocate additional funds to federal research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). However, with Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) now leading the House Appropriations Committees (see below), the NIH may become a higher priority as the committee deliberates its spending decisions.

Regarding the timing of a final budget, given that 2024 is an election year and Congress remains sharply divided along partisan lines, it is unclear if an FY 2025 budget can be completed by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. It is likely, as in previous years, that Congress will have to pass at least one or more short-term spending measures (or continuing resolutions) to keep the government funded in FY 2025.

In this challenging budgetary environment, the AACR will continue to strongly advocate for the highest possible levels of funding for NIH and NCI.

Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) Selected as New Chairman of House Appropriations Committee

-Blake William Rostine

On April 10, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) was ratified by the House Republican Conference as the new chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee for the remainder of the 118th Congress.

Rep. Cole, who was awarded the Distinguished Congressional Champion Award for Extraordinary Support of Medical Research by the AACR in 2022, has been a steadfast advocate for the biomedical research community. As a tireless advocate for cancer research during his career, his efforts have included working with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to fund the Cancer Moonshot, a bipartisan commitment to prevent more than 4 million cancer deaths by 2047.

As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Cole will be tasked with federal appropriations, including funding for vital programs at the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute. He replaced Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who stepped down from this position in March. While Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) expressed interest in this position, he stepped aside allowing for Rep. Cole’s selection. The House Appropriations Committee’s swift action in selecting Rep. Cole as the new chairman shows their trust in Rep. Cole as an effective policymaker.

May Is National Cancer Research Month

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) initiated and supports National Cancer Research Month to highlight the importance of lifesaving research to the millions of people around the world affected by the collection of devastating diseases we call cancer. Learn more and contact your members of Congress today to urge them to prioritize robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases for the National Institutes of Health.

AACR Hosts Congressional Briefing to Unveil the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2024 

On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, AACR sponsored a Congressional briefing to unveil the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2024. This biennial report raises awareness of the enormous toll that cancer exacts on racial and ethnic minority groups and other medically underserved populations in the United States; highlights underlying causes of cancer disparities as well as promising trends in reducing these inequities; and emphasizes the need for continued research and collaborations to ensure that advances against cancer benefit all patients, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.

This year’s report includes nine compelling personal stories from cancer survivors of various backgrounds. These stories underline the importance of funding research and enacting legislation to achieve health equity, a fundamental human right. We are very pleased that Brian King, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA participated in the Congressional briefing, especially after the White House decided on April 26th to delay the final rules (that the FDA proposed) to eliminate menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This decision by the White House to delay the issuance of the final rules to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars is a setback in our nation’s efforts to achieve the goals associated with the Cancer Moonshot, as tobacco use is responsible for more than 30 percent of all deaths from cancer. Click here for additional information about the Congressional briefing.

More than 2,000 Participated in FDA-AACR Workshop to Examine Clinical Trial Designs for Treatment Regimens with Multiple Phases 

On May 9, 2024, the AACR partnered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a workshop titled, “How much is enough? Trial Designs for Treatment Regimens with multiple phases.” The goal of the workshop was to foster a robust scientific discussion to explore approaches that address uncertainty in the interpretation of several high-profile clinical trials which contain regimens that do not isolate the contribution of each treatment phase. Therefore, the workshop provided an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the best practices of trial design, analyses, and interpretation of trials with multiple phases of treatment. If you are interested in watching the video from the workshop, you can access it on the AACR’s website.

Regulatory Science and Policy Sessions from AACR24 Available for Streaming 

The recent AACR Annual Meeting 2024 in San Diego, California was the largest ever with more than 23,000 attendees! It’s impossible to attend every exciting session during the meeting. Fortunately, meeting registrants can access session recordings, including the Regulatory Science and Policy Track sessions, on the meeting platform as on-demand streaming through July 10. Additionally, the following policy sessions can be viewed publicly outside the meeting platform:

Save the Date! The 12th Annual Rally for Medical Research

The 12th Annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day will take place Thursday, September 19, in Washington, D.C., bringing patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, and other advocates together for meetings with congressional offices in support of funding for the National Institutes of Health. A reception for attendees will be held Wednesday, September 18. For more information, please visit the Rally’s website or contact [email protected].