Joe Biden tried to work with the Trump administration on curing cancer, but they weren’t interested

Thanks but no thanks.
Thanks but no thanks.
Image: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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After losing his son Beau to a brain tumor in 2015, former US vice president Joe Biden launched the White House Cancer Moonshot Taskforce the following year to accelerate efforts to cure the disease. Hillary Clinton asked him to continue the work at the White House level in the event she won the presidency. After Donald Trump’s unexpected win, Biden offered to help the incoming administration continue fighting cancer, an issue he described as “the only non-partisan thing left out there.”

“Vice president Pence was interested,” Biden told a crowd gathered in San Diego for the Fortune Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday, in a way that pointedly suggested that Pence’s boss was not.

The work hasn’t ground to a halt. The US Cancer Moonshot continues under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute, armed with an initial $300 million in funding and a total of $1.8 billion authorized over seven years. Quartz contacted the White House to ask if the administration has staff dedicated to cancer research and will update this post with any response.

Biden expressed frustration with Trump’s attempts to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other science research.

“If we just for one to two years make significant cuts to what scientists think are valuable [areas], if you’re a brilliant young person looking to get into that field and you see it drying up, you’ll say, ‘I’m not going to go in that direction,’” Biden said. “The idea that we’re gutting the EPA, I mean, for chrissakes—for gosh sake’s, it’s just bizarre.”

He praised Congress for bucking the administration’s recent proposal to slash $1.2 billion in NIH funding for the rest of 2017 to pay for increased defense spending. The current budget agreement instead allocates an extra $2 billion to the NIH, bringing its total budget to $34 billion.

“If you look at the recent budget, there’s no cuts. The public has moved ahead of the administration,” Biden said.

Asked about a 2020 presidential run, Biden would not rule out the possibility. He said he is not actively working on a bid at the moment, instead channeling his energy into the Biden Foundation’s Cancer Initiative.

“It’s what Beau would want me to do and it matters,” Biden said of his work on cancer. “It matters.”