Former Vice President Joe Biden took aim at President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to science and health funding on Tuesday (2 May). Biden also revealed that he tried working with the current administration on his cancer "moonshot" project but they were not interested.
Two years after his son, Beau, died of brain cancer, Biden opened up about his non-profit cancer initiative at the Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. Biden laid out his fears regarding the significant impact that the budget cuts proposed by Trump could have on critical medical research, reports CBS News.
The former vice president said the role of government in scientific research that could lead to a cure for cancer was crucial. "You've got to be able to do something to give some people some hope, to have a shot," he said.
Biden launched the White House Cancer Moonshot Taskforce in 2016, a year after losing his son. Fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton asked him to continue the initiative in the event she won the presidential election.
When she did not, Biden offered to help the Republican administration continue the fight against cancer—a fight he referred to as "the only bi-partisan thing left out there".
According to Quartz, Biden told the San Diego crowd that "Vice President Pence was interested" but implied that Trump was not. Despite receiving no support from the White House, the US Cancer Moonshot continues its work under the funding of the National Cancer Institute. It received an initial $300m (£233m) in funding and a total of $1.8bn over seven years.
Biden confirmed Wednesday (3 May) at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills that he is now working with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, on this initiative.
"People came to me and asked if I would continue the moonshot because it had not been picked up by the new administration," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "So, I'm doing that ... in this fight, we have to be unwilling to postpone."
Science spending cuts slammed
Biden also criticised Trump's proposal to slash billions from science and environmental agencies and noted that even some Republicans were against the cuts, according to CBS News.
"I think our Republican colleagues have decided there are certain things that are just not negotiable, and I think science, the EPA, the idea, the idea that we're gutting - the proposal to gut the EPA, I mean, come on, for gosh sakes! It's just bizarre!" he said.
Biden also took a moment to praise Congress for rejecting the administration's proposal to cut $1.2bn in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for the remainder of 2017 to pay for increased defence spending. Quartz reports that the budget - which passed the House on Wednesday - instead gave NIH an additional $2bn to its budget.
When asked on Tuesday about a possible 2020 presidential run, Biden did not dismiss the possibility, but said he is currently focused on the Biden Foundation's Cancer Initiative. "It's what Beau would want me to do, and it matters," he said. "It matters."