Childhood Cancer STAR Act Passes U.S. House

Dec 6, 2016

“Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Texas, Mr. Burgess, and Chairman Fred Upton for their work on this effort as well. I chair the Homeland Security Committee, but I also chair the Childhood Cancer Caucus. It’s one of the biggest threats to our children; it’s the number one killer of our children.

“So therefore, I rise today in support of H.R. 3381, the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, because it will address the four major concerns facing the pediatric cancer community: Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research. 

“I introduced this bill with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, Mr. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Ms. Jackie Speier of California, to be the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever considered before this House. 

“I co-founded, as I said, the Childhood Cancer Caucus seven years ago as a platform to give children a voice, children that don’t have lobbyists, children that are dying who have been impacted by this life altering diagnosis.

“To better fight childhood cancer, we must know more about it, and that’s what the STAR Act does. It authorizes NIH to expand their efforts to collect data on childhood cancer so we can better understand its causes and effects of treatment. It also builds on previous work from cancer research groups to provide doctors with the resources necessary to identify children who may be at risk for developing cancer - preventing the worst outcomes from becoming a reality.

“And finally, we must address the needs of the two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors facing serious life-long medical conditions. Our bill will improve collaboration among providers so doctors are better able to care for survivors as they age.

“I am pleased this bill has the strong support of the patient advocacy community, and I especially want to thank the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for their continued support, help, and work on this important bill. Their CEO, Kathleen Ruddy, as well as Kevin Mathis and Danielle Leach, have been relentless advocates of this bill to make a difference in kids’ lives.

“I look forward to working with them in the future as we look to further address the needs of the childhood cancer community. 

“I’d like to close, Mr. Speaker, by saying that we are also very excited that the CURES Act passed the House of Representatives, a very important bill to curing not just childhood cancer, but all diseases. We urge the Senate to pass that legislation as well, and in that bill was the Creating HOPE Act/Advancing Hope Act, which will make a difference in the number of drugs that can be developed to cure childhood cancer. In fact, it reauthorizes a bill that I introduced to the year 2020. A bill that has already produced a childhood cancer drug, the first since the 1980s to cure neuroblastoma in children. I went to meet with Rex Ryan at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, TX during his clinical trial.  The idea, Mr. Speaker, that you can pass a bill in this Congress… that transforms into saving the life of a child is truly a tremendous and extraordinary experience. And with that, I yield back.”