Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the House Floor in support of his bill to fight childhood cancer worldwide, the Global Hope Act. The Global Hope Act will be a new tool in our fight to cure childhood cancer and save lives. 

Click to Watch Opening Remarks

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Madame Speaker, I rise in strong support of my bill the Global Hope Act.I am proud to have introduced this bill with my good friend Chairman Eliot Engel. I want to thank the gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Phillips, for his strong support and his personal story. I also want to thank the co-chair of the childhood cancer caucus, Jackie Speier, for her tireless work with me and the caucus to help these children

“I have been a tireless advocate for children with cancer since I first came to Congress. In 2010, I helped found the Childhood Cancer Caucus, really to give a voice to patients and advocates and the children. This endeavor is deeply personal for me as well – growing up, in elementary school, my best friend passed away from leukemia. Back then, it was a death sentence. Since founding the caucus, we have been very successful.

“Congress has passed bipartisan legislation to improve cancer treatment options, boost research opportunities, and address health issues of the nearly 500,000 long-term childhood cancer survivors. Today, childhood cancer is largely treatable, with an 80% 5-year survival rate in the United States. Unfortunately, in developing countries, the opposite is true. Children diagnosed with cancer in developing countries have an 80% mortality rate. In sub-Saharan Africa, the mortality rate of children diagnosed with cancer is as high as 90%. This says nothing of the tens of thousands of cases that are believed to go undiagnosed every year.

“I truly believe that a child’s birthplace should not determine their fate from cancer. And that is why I introduced the Global Hope Act. My bill authorizes the Secretary of State to pursue public-private partnerships to increase access to treatment options, train health professionals, and ultimately improve care for children with cancer in developing countries. These partnerships will leverage decades of U.S. investments to strengthen health infrastructure and build the capacity of health ministries. This legislation does not take away funds from other critical global health interventions and infectious disease efforts.

“Rather, these public-private partnerships will build on existing  programs to improve childhood cancer survival rates. Organizations such as Texas Children’s Hospital and St. Judes, private sector partners such as Bristol Myers Squibb and Teva, and non-profits such as ACCESS are already starting this important work and seeing results in Botswana and other nations.

“These efforts also support the World Health Organization’s Global Childhood Cancer Initiative. Launched in 2018, the WHO aims to build political support and institutional capacity to treat childhood cancer in developing countries. The initiative set a goal of saving an additional one million lives by 2030. For the past two decades, the United States has been a global leader in funding health programs around the world and I am proud to support this lifesaving work. Most recently, we passed a resolution affirming the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and secured robust funding in the FY20 appropriations bill. Our work to fight HIV/AIDS and eradicate other infectious diseases is far from over.

“But there is a critical opportunity to build on the successes of these global health programs and integrate projects aimed at improving childhood cancer care and available treatment options. I urge my colleagues to support this important measure and I urge my colleagues to support this important, life-saving measure.” 

Click to Watch Closing Remarks 

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Let me just thank my dear friend, Jackie Speier, for her leadership on this issue and the co-chair of the caucus, and I think we can prove that in this toxic, partisan, difficult time in this Congress, that we can work across the aisle, Republican and Democrat, but most importantly as Americans, to get good things done for not only the American people but for the world and save the children of the world. And this is, I think, Congresswoman Speier, you are correct – we passed a lot of bills together that have saved lives, but I think this one probably is the most profound one. And it’s very difficult to pass a bill in the Congress, much less get it signed into law, but when you pass a bill and you see it saving lives, that is perhaps the most remarkable and gratifying experience I have personally had in my eight terms in Congress. So thank you so much for your friendship.

“But in closing I want to – I remember being at Texas Children’s Hospital in September 2018, to hear from the president of Botswana and about the project, Global Hope Initiative, inspired by the Baylor College of Medicine, in their early work against HIV/AIDS and the epidemic in Africa. Global Hope is starting to deliver childhood cancer treatments in sub-Saharan Africa as I speak. And at the event, when I met the president of Botswana, where the global hope act was recently constructed and a new pediatric facility in Botswana, which I will be visiting next month with my little childhood cancer survivor, Sadie Keller, and it’s really starting to train a new generation of Botswanan oncologists, but what I was most impressed by is when he told me about the legacy of PEPFAR and what we did as a nation and he said, you know, PEPFAR saved a generation of my people from extinction. From extinction. 

“It’s my hope that this bill will save a generation of children from this dreaded disease. I believe that childhood cancer can be the next successful global hope initiative that will save lives. And I want to particularly thank Dr. Poplack who was the chief oncologist at Texas Children’s. He’s the one who is responsible for this initiative and we are taking their initiative and turning it into law and the Congress. I will be there next month to celebrate International Children’s Cancer Day, and I do want to reference, too, my little childhood cancer fighter and survivor, Sadie Keller who came into my office – there are a lot of lobbyists in this town, but the children had no voice. They had no power. That’s why Jackie and I formed the Childhood Cancer Caucus, to give them a voice. When she entered my office, she’s 7 years old here, in her pink dress, I knew I’d met somebody very special. And I canceled my calendar, my schedule, for the rest of the day and I took her on a tour of the Capitol and here we are looking — we had no idea they were even taking pictures. But I took her to the rotunda in the Capitol. And I remember we spun around and looked at the top of the Capitol, but then I took her out to the Speaker’s balcony, one of the most beautiful views in this Capitol Building. But looking out on the horizon towards the future, seeing the ominous dark clouds, but also a ray of sunshine, the sunshine that’s coming in, the sunshine that little Sadie’s brought to my life, the sunshine that we are trying to bring to all these children out there who have gone through some really tough experiences. And I’ve met many of them, like the Congressman from Minnesota’s daughter. And it’s very heartbreaking to see them in the hospitals. And some survive and some don’t.

“But this effort will take it to the next step in fight against this dreaded disease. We have done so much to help children in the United States, with the F.D.A. approving CAR-T which takes your own immune system to attack your own cancer through your own T cells, rather than injecting chemo which is a derivative of World War I mustard gas which has been banned from the battlefield, which kills the cancer just before it kills you. You can imagine the survivorship issues with these children as they have the rest of their lives, if they survive, to deal with. So I want to thank all those friends of mine on the other side of the aisle for helping me move this forward. This is a momentous day for our fight against childhood cancer and it’s a momentous day to take it global and take the fight globally. And with that, Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. I look forward to its passage in the Senate and being signed into law.”