Congressman Matt Salmon’s Testimony Before the House Budget Committee Urging them to Target Cancer in the FY2016 Budget
WOMACK: ”Now it’s time to recognize the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Salmon.”
SALMON: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member, and members of the committee. It’s an honor to be here today. Each any every one of us has impacted by the scourge of cancer. While you know me for being pretty miserly, I know you do, know me for being one of those guys that hates to spend federal dollars, I firmly believe that we are in desperate need a much stronger commitment from our government to eradicating this devastating and deadly disease. Without this commitment, much of this life saying research just isn’t gonna get done.“
SALMON (CONT.): “I will point to two areas. We made some great progress in certain types of cancer, but if you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it’s a death sentence. The diagnostics and treatment for pancreatic cancer hasn’t improved in probably 30 years. I think much of that can be said with lung cancer as well.”
SALMON (CONT.): “The guy on my staff that’s working on these cancer issues believes it up-close and personal. I’ve known him since he was about nine or ten years old, and he lost his mother to breast cancer who was a friend of my wife and mine. She fought valiantly for five years and ended up having to go to Africa to try experimental treatment, that wasn’t yet approved in the United States, and they had to pay for that money out-of-pocket.”
SALMON (CONT.): “On Friday I had the privilege of visiting the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and looking into the eyes of little kids who may not see their next birthday. Most of them were diagnosed with leukemia, but there were a few with other kinds of cancers. As I interacted with their doctors and I talked to the children, these children, many of them, didn’t even know what they were dealing with. Many of them had smiles, some of them were hopeless. I think we have a responsibility to fight for them.”
SALMON (CONT.): “We often talk about the importance of maintaining a robust defense for the purpose of saving American lives, but what good is it, if we don’t do anything to increase our commitment to protect the fifteen-hundred people who die every day by cancer, here in the United States. In the end, this is all about people’s lives, real lives. I saw that up and close on Friday.
SALMON (CONT.): “As one of the things I did to kind of signify my support for this effort, I did something a vein guy like me never does, I shaved my head. When I walked into the hospital and I met those children, and they saw that I looked just like them, you should see the smile on their faces, and one of the dads when I walked in, I said ‘Hi, I’m Matt Salmon,’ and he started to cry and he said, ‘I know who you are, and I voted for you, and I can’t believe you’re here. I didn’t think politicians actually showed up to places like this, much less shave their heads.’ By the way, the father had shaved his head because his son had brain cancer surgery as well and had lost all his hair, but it was a really emotional time for me, and I want to be able to go back to them and tell them we’re taking this fight seriously. So I’d like to ask you to join with me in calling for the following measures to be taken.”
SALMON (CONT.): “Support thirty-two billion this year for NIH. That’s two billion more. Already have come up with a, I believe a pay-for for that. Our ‘Shrink Our Spending’ initiative, which has some common sense ideas, gets rid of two billion, covers us in the first year. I’d also like us to institute a five year commitment to at least five percent annual increases for NIH. Extend NAH authority to award grants from one to two years. That kind of research that’s going on right now, they have to have that continuity and be able to know that the funding is at least going to continue for a couple of years so that the research can be completed. And restore the lost purchasing power of agency research budgets, increase NIH budget to forty billion by twenty-twenty one.
SALMON (CONT.): Look, we went to the moon. We did that because a President stood up and said we were going to do it. Nobody believed it could get done, and I think it was for a lot less important cause than eradicating cancer. I think if we make that kind of dedication, we’re actually gonna do, like we did to the mission to the moon, look at all of our existing funding programs, research programs, figure out what works, what doesn’t, get rid of that which doesn’t, and support that which does, so that in this country, we can truly end the scourge of cancer, and everybody’s lives in this country will be better for it. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.