We in the longevity field have received powerful allies on Capitol Hill with the creation of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Longevity Science. We had the opportunity to ask questions of one of its co-chairs.
Longevity is bipartisan
The fight against aging must become one of humanity’s main priorities if we want to see meaningful progress on a global scale. This requires recruiting allies among politicians and other decision makers.
Recently, a major step in that direction was made. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) announced the formation of the Congressional Caucus for Longevity Science. According to the press release, the caucus “aims to educate Members about the growing field of aging and longevity biotechnology, and promote initiatives aimed at increasing the healthy average lifespan of all Americans.”
The two co-chairs are joined by three other founding members: Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). In a time when political divisions run deep, both Bilirakis and Tonko stressed and praised the bipartisan nature of this endeavor in their comments.
Policy, budget, research
A congressional caucus is a force to be reckoned with. For instance, it can promote legislation that would improve the FDA’s stance on longevity drug trials, influence budget allocation, and use the vast analytical resources available to Congress to further investigate the economic and societal benefits of healthspan and lifespan extension.
The Alliance for Longevity Initiatives (A4LI), a lobbying group founded in 2021, helped facilitate the formation of the caucus. You can read our interview with A4LI’s founder and CEO Dylan Livingston here. The president of Lifespan.io, Keith Comito, is an A4LI board member.
We contacted Rep. Bilirakis and asked him a few questions about the caucus.
How can politicians help longevity research?
It is important for policymakers to stay up to date on longevity research, as we have a unique platform that allows us the chance to highlight the development that is occurring in this space. Additionally, with my role in Congress, I welcome the opportunity to shape forward-focused policy with a strong public-private partnership that allows innovation to flourish.
What was your motivation for founding the caucus?
I helped form this caucus to learn more about the growing field of aging and longevity biotechnology and look forward to the opportunity to promote initiatives that work towards and encourage the healthy average lifespan of all Americans. Truly, I want all Floridians and all Americans to live their fullest, healthiest lives in a way in which health care costs don’t break the bank for them as they enjoy their retirement years.
What would be your answer to the various misconceptions about life extension, such as that it will lead to overpopulation and increased healthcare costs, or that longevity therapies will only be available to the rich?
Increasing life expectancy and promoting positive health outcomes is an extremely important priority, and we formed the caucus so that we can address such misconceptions. The goal is not just for people to live longer, but also for people to live longer, healthier and more enriching lives. Proactive and preventative health measures will undoubtedly help reduce healthcare costs, which is a win-win. Many business leaders and economists have expressed concern about the declining US birthrate and its implications for the US workforce.
The US birthrate has declined by almost 20% since 2007. With fewer babies being born to replace our aging population, it is a reasonable concern. Therefore, the work the Caucus is doing to ensure our aging population stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible, could potentially have a positive impact on the economy as it could help prevent workforce interruptions.
What economic impact would an increase in healthy longevity have?
We anticipate that healthy longevity will lend itself to a full and productive workforce, which will be wonderful for the United States economy. Additionally, through improved disease prevention and maintenance, the healthcare system would realize potential cost savings.
Do you have concrete actions planned for the Caucus?
We look forward to growing membership and pursuing educational opportunities for Members of Congress.
Are you in touch with prominent longevity scientists and other leaders in the field?
Yes, we are very excited to work with a multitude of stakeholders, including prominent longevity scientists. It is a fast-growing field, and I certainly welcome the opportunity to stay informed on the work that is being done.
What is your positive message to Americans about healthy longevity?
It is important that Americans feel empowered to take ownership of their health and that they have access to resources that allow them to live full, healthy, long lives.