President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon on the work to begin “end cancer as we know it,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Psaki, ahead of the meeting on Wednesday, said “defeating cancer is of significant personal importance to the president, the first lady and the vice president.”
“This is his first engagement with members of Congress in the Oval Office about it,” Psaki said, noting he plans to discuss ways to work with lawmakers on both sides.
The White House said that many of the lawmakers joining Biden and Harris in the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon were “pivotal” in passing the 21st Century Cures Act during the Obama-Biden administration, which was designed to help accelerate medical product development and bring new innovations and advances to patients who need them faster and more efficiently.
Democrat Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mike Crapo of Idaho will join the president and vice president, along with Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Co., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.
Last month, Biden said that once the U.S. beats the coronavirus pandemic, “we’re gonna do everything we can to end cancer as we know it.”
Biden was in charge of President Obama’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative launched in 2016 to double the rate of progress and advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Biden lost his son, Beau Biden, 46, to brain cancer in 2015.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the Cancer Moonshot had three “ambitious goals”: “To accelerate scientific discovery in cancer, foster greater collaboration, and improve the sharing of data.”
At the end of the Obama administration, Biden put out an executive summary highlighting the task force’s progress, which included establishing a National Institutes of Health public-private partnership for accelerating cancer therapies, making clinical research trials more accessible to cancer patients, studying types of technologies and therapies that could deliver more targeted doses of radiation to tumor cells, and more.
Congress, in December 2016, passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which authorized $1.8 billion in funding for the Cancer Moonshot over seven years. The funding was appropriated each fiscal year, with $300 million in 2017, $300 million in 2018, $400 million in 2019, and $195 million for fiscal year 2020.
It is unclear, at this point, whether the Biden White House will establish a task force similar to the Cancer Moonshot Task Force of the Obama administration, and whether the president and vice president will discuss legislation to appropriate further funding for cancer research during Wednesday afternoon’s meeting.
A White House official did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Last month, Biden touted his nomination of Eric Lander as presidential science advisor and director of science and technology policy, a Cabinet-level assignment. Biden praised Lander, saying he will bring together the country’s top scientists to conduct advanced research on cancer and other diseases.
“This administration is going to be guided by science to save lives and to make life better,” Biden said last month.