Massive Bipartisan Cures Bill Funds Cancer Research, Mental Health
Since losing his son Beau to cancer, Vice President Joe Biden has been passionate about cancer research. In ushering the bipartisan 21st Century Cures bill into law, Biden seeks to preserve the Obama Administration’s legacy—but with bipartisanship comes compromise, and the progressive wing aren’t happy about the results.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved the 21st Century Cures bill. The vote was a near-formality, as the proposed legislation benefited from widespread popularity with the public and lawmakers alike. Instrumental in passing it has been Vice President Joe Biden, whose advocacy and persistence culminated in a rare moment of senatorial solidarity; as Biden presided over the Senate for a procedural vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Cures bill would rename its cancer program after Biden’s late son, Beau. It passed 94-5.
Inside is a standard bipartisan fork; there are boosts to cancer research, mental health, and opioid treatment—but also a Republican gutting of FDA standards, earning the ire of the progressive wing’s Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. “The greed of the pharmaceutical industry has no limit, and this bill includes numerous corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer” Sanders said in a statement, while Warren tweeted a promise to “keep fighting to implement the good policies in #CuresAct, repeal the giveaways, & hold Congress accountable for NIH & opioid funding.”
Riders notwithstanding, the Cures Act is ultimately intended to preserve the Obama Administration’s healthcare legacy, which stands to be dismantled by the newly-elected Republican government. It is also something of a personal quest for Biden, whose son was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010 and passed away five years later.
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Biden became involved with the 21st Century Cures Act while leading the “Cancer moonshot” initiative, a cancer research project launched by the White House early this year. It was reportedly Biden’s involvement with the bill that ultimately propelled it to success.
President Obama is optimistic the Act will be a boon to medical researchers. “It could help us find a cure for Alzheimer’s,” he said during his weekly address. “It could end cancer as we know it and help those seeking treatment for opioid addiction. . . It’s an opportunity to save lives, and an opportunity we just can’t miss.”