Former Vice President Joe Biden has criticized cuts to cancer research funding proposed in President Donald Trump's draft budget presented March 16.
Biden made the comments during a speech to the American Association for Cancer Research April 3, the Washington Post reported.
Biden declared that the cuts were "draconian," adding that the number of grant applications that would be accepted "would almost certainly reach an historic low."
Former President Barack Obama encouraged Biden, whose son died of cancer in 2015, to play a leading part in the administration's Cancer Moonshot initiative.
As part of that plan, Congress agreed funding totaling $1.8 billion for the Cancer Moonshot initiative over seven years in December 2016. "This is what the average American expects their government to do," said Biden, pointing to the bipartisan support for the funding.
It remains unclear whether Congress will accept the Trump administration's cuts to research. The spending plan contained an 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health and a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is not the time to undercut progress, for God's sake," added Biden. "This is the time to double down."
He added that the spending reductions could discourage younger people from taking up careers in the biomedical research sector due to the fear of no government funding being available.
The March 16 budget was merely an outline, with a full document expected in May. It noted with respect to the NIH that the budget would "rebalance federal contributions to research funding."
The blueprint also called for the reorganization of the NIH's 27 institutes, including the elimination of its smallest, the Fogarty International Center.
Trump's Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, explained why the administration wants to cut the NIH budget.
"We think there's been mission creep," Mulvaney said, according to Nature. "We think they do things that are outside their core functions."
Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, disagreed.
"We're pretty upset," she said in response to the announcement.
Researchers also warn that the cuts could deprive the U.S. of its leading place in biomedical research and other areas.
Climate researchers expressed concern about plans to terminate several programs, including some run by NASA.
"It is shortsighted and not what made our nation great," said climate scientist Gabe Vecchi, the Scientific American reported. "It is only through targeted research and sustained monitoring that we can expect to be leaders in weather and climate prediction and understanding."