publication date: Feb. 8, 2019

Trump to dedicate $500M over 10 years to childhood cancer

By Claire Dietz

In his State of the Union address Feb. 5, President Donald Trump said he plans to ask Congress for $500 million over 10 years to fund pediatric cancer research—an amount Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said is insufficient.

“Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades,” Trump said. “My [president’s] budget [proposal] will ask the Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund this critical life-saving research.”

According to Politico, Pelosi said in a closed-door conference meeting, “$500 million over 10 years—are you kidding me? Who gave him that [$50 million] figure? It’s like the cost of his protection of his Mar-a-Lago or something.”

At the same meeting, Pelosi called Trump’s proposal a “trolley ride” when compared to the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.

“We’re talking about a moonshot,” Pelosi said during the conference meeting Feb. 6, according to Politico. “He’s talking about a trolley ride.”

In December 2016, Congress authorized $1.8 billion over seven years for then Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative (The Cancer Letter, Dec. 16, 2016).

Trump’s plan would allocate $50 million per year for childhood cancer research. For perspective, the Cancer Moonshot receives about $257 million a year when averaged over seven years (The Cancer Letter, To the Moon).

“Tonight, I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind: the fight against childhood cancer,” Trump said in his address. “Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline. Every birthday since she was four, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer,” Trump said. “Immediately, she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer. When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered with tears in their eyes as she hung up a poster that read: ‘Last Day of Chemo.’ Grace—you are an inspiration to us all.”

Nancy Goodman, founder and executive director of Kids v Cancer, an advocacy group, said Trump’s speech and Pelosi’s comment, though at odds with each other, signal intent to find new money for research in pediatric cancer.

“President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, put your money where your mouth is and appropriate more than half a billion dollars to have scientists develop some cures for kids with cancer,” Goodman said to The Cancer Letter. “It’s clear from President Trump’s statement and Speaker Pelosi’s statement that they’re talking about new money. So, let’s be clear about that and appropriate some new funding.”

Copyright (c) 2019 The Cancer Letter Inc.