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Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my legislation, H.R. 733, which was originally named the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, which has now been renamed to be the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012.

I first introduced this bill in the 110th Congress in honor of a very dear friend, Ambassador Richard Sklar, who was a victim of this devastating disease.

Pancreatic cancer is a disease from which very few people survive. It's essentially a death sentence. It's because of the families, their friends, neighbors, doctors, and coworkers who have advocated for much better research and treatments that we've made it to the finish line legislatively and that we are here this evening.

Sadly, the outcomes for those with pancreatic cancer have remained relatively unchanged since the passage of the National Cancer Act nearly 40 years ago. Only 6 percent of people diagnosed with the disease live longer than 5 years. Let me say that again. Only 6 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live longer than 5 years; 75 percent die within a year of diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal types of cancers, even as survival rates for other cancers have increased.

The Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, which I introduced with my wonderful colleague, a real gentleman of the House, Representative Leonard Lance, directs the National Cancer Institute, the NCI, to develop a long-term strategic plan for addressing the disease, bringing together the finest minds in our country with the best expertise in this area. The plan will be used by the agency as a roadmap for navigating the best way forward in research for early detection, for new diagnostic tools, treatment therapies, and even cures.

While pancreatic cancer is one of the most devastating of all recalcitrant cancers, or those with a high mortality rate and few treatments, it's certainly not the only cancer that needs increased attention. That's why I've worked closely with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to expand our legislation to include all recalcitrant cancers so that we can make progress in other areas, too.

I'm exceedingly proud to say that this bill enjoys the bipartisan cosponsorship of 293 Members of the United States House of Representatives. I want to thank Chairman Upton, Fred Upton, whom I cajoled, whom I pestered, whom I pleaded with, whom I constantly kept after. He reminded me that I needed patience. I kept reminding him that I've been at it for 6 years. But he listened, and I appreciate that and I salute him for it.

To the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Waxman, to the staffs of the majority, both the Health Subcommittee, the full committee majority staff and the minority staff, I want to thank them as well, because without them we really cannot get our work done.

I also want to say how proud I am and grateful I am for the efforts of the pancreatic cancer advocates who had the courage to share their painful stories with their Representatives and educate them about the importance of this legislation. I would also like to make mention of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who is the author in the other body and has been a marvelous advocate and carrier of this legislation. And last but not least, I'd like to pay tribute to Erin Katzelnick-Wise of my staff, who, for all of this time--over three Congresses--has worked diligently and vigorously and loyally on this bill.

I look forward to seeing H.R. 733 signed into law by the President so that we can begin the important work of finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, as well as the other cancers that take the lives of our fellow Americans every day. I think with the passage of this and the signature of it, the American people will say, at last, at last the Congress has acted on a bipartisan basis on something that is of utmost importance and urgency to the American people.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to add to the comments that I made earlier that this is really highly unusual that a bill would enjoy such high co-sponsorship.

So, to the advocates that may be tuned in tonight, I, again, want to pay homage to them for their advocacy, for their tenacity, for their turning their real pain and loss into something that is worthy of those that were lost. Almost 1,000 bills were referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee during this, the 112th Congress. There was no other bill that enjoyed the high number, 293 bipartisan cosponsors.

This Congress has been really torn a part by so much disagreement, a high amount of nonpartisanship, people all over the country really scratching their heads and saying, can anyone ever come together in Congress to get something done for the American people. And while I wish there were so much more, I think that this stands tall and is an eloquent statement about my colleagues that signed on to this as cosponsors.

And I thank, again, the leadership on both sides of the aisle, the staff that is so wonderfully responsible for the beautiful work that's done and, again, close my comments by paying tribute to the Republican leader on this legislation, Representative Leonard Lance, who is a genuine gentleman, an outstanding legislator, a good friend, and a man of real integrity.

I say bravo to all of the advocates. God bless you all.

I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Speaker.

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