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Advocacy at a Glance

June 28, 2013

Advocacy at a Glance offers you the bullet point summary of current advocacy issues associated with the goals of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

  • Next Step in Agriculture/FDA Spending Bill: Floor Time. With both the House and Senate full appropriations committees having approved their versions of the Agriculture/FDA spending bill, the next step in the process is for the bills to go to each chambers’ floors. At this point, it is unclear when floor consideration will occur. The House had originally planned to take the bill to the floor this week, but ultimately altered course and did not consider it. The change in course is likely due to the failure last week of the Farm Bill on the House floor. In this week’s Analysis and Commentary, we offer comment on the connection between the Farm Bill failure and the Agriculture spending bill delay in the House.
  • Bipartisanship Alive on the Senate Appropriations Committee. While there appears to be a lack of partisan agreement on spending priorities in the House, it is important to point out that a number of Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee joined with the Democrat majority to pass the Agriculture/FDA Spending bill out of full committee last week. The Republicans who joined Democrats in the 23-6 vote in support of the bill, include: Senators Blunt (MO), Boozman (AR), Cochran (MS), Collins (ME), Hoeven (ND), Kirk (IL), Moran(KA) and Murkowski (AK). To read more about this broader trend of bipartisanship on the Senate Appropriations Committee, please read David Rogers’piece in Politico.
  • Why is the Senate Topline Spending Number so Different than the House? As we have discussed in the past, the Senate and House have wildly varying top-line spending numbers. In the aggregate, the Senate is proposing to spend $1.058 trillion for FY 14, which is about $91 billion more than the House level of $968 billion. The major difference is that the Senate wants to use other deficit-reduction tools (e.g., changes to entitlements or tax revenue) rather than cutting discretionary programs through sequestration. The case for the Senate position and the impact on discretionary domestic spending is discussed in more detail here.
  • Discretionary Spending Continues to Lose Ground to Mandatory Spending. As the House and Senate pursue their annual work to pass FY14 spending bills, it is easy to lose sight of big picture trends. One trend the Alliance has been keeping an eye on is the fact that discretionary spending, including both Defense and Non-Defense, continues to lose ground as a percent of GDP, while entitlement spending continues to grow. The CBO has done a really interesting chart, which we include below, that shows their projection of major areas of federal spending as a part of the GDP. In the chart, the CBO predicts that Federal mandatory health care spending (Medicare and Medicaid) and Social Security will grow as a percent of GDP, while the reverse will happen to both Defense and Non-Defense spending. Another interesting trend in this projection is that if current law stays in place, debt service will eventually be larger than all Non-Defense discretionary spending.

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  • Congress is Out Next Week. Both the House and Senate have scheduled in-district work next week and will not be in session. Recognizing the likely lack of appropriations activity, there will be no Friday update next week (July 5). Before you get too cynical about Congress being on vacation for a week, check out this commentary (on the Roll Call web site) on what recess is really like for Members of Congress.

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