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FY 11 Appropriations Process Swings into Full Force

January 22, 2010

ADVOCACY

  • Agriculture Appropriators Meetings begin February 1st. The Alliance is set to meet with staff of members of the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees beginning February 1st.
  • Alliance Member Meeting. Tuesday, February 9th at 2:00 pm.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

The FDA appropriations process is about to swing into full-force. Next Wednesday night, January 27, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress. He was expecting to announce significant progress on health care reform, maybe even announce a House-Senate agreement that he was prepared to sign. This past week’s Senatorial election in Massachusetts has ruined that prospect.

He may devote a small part of the address to next steps on health reform or just acknowledge that new approaches are being considered. This will shift the main focus of his speech back to deficit reduction, job creation, banking reform, and our overseas commitments. We hope he will touch upon FDA in a positive way, but typically the State of the Union is so broad and sweeping that we would not expect any single agency — even FDA — to be mentioned.

The week following the President’s address is when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) releases the details of the President’s request. We expect this will be February 1, 2, or 3. Even when it is formally announced for a specific day, the release is often delayed by a day or two. The Alliance will compile and distribute an analysis of the FDA portion as soon as we can.

The Alliance is seeking a $500 million increase in FDA’s appropriation. Given that the President will be emphasizing deficit reduction, we doubt that he will be requesting that amount or anywhere near that much. As noted in last week’s column, FDA needs a $120 million increase just to sustain current program levels. That would not cover any new initiatives unless offset by decreases or termination in some existing programs at FDA. We can hope that the President’s request is above this level.

Regardless, we will need Congress’ help to continue to strengthen FDA. And OMB’s opinion will also continue to matter. When Congress is putting extra money in above the President’s request, they often ask the administration its opinion. Even if the President does not request enough for FDA, we would want OMB to be neutral or supportive of Congressional efforts to do more for the agency.

Before mid-February, the appropriations committees will have assessed the implications of the President’s requests and begin working to assure that the Congressional budget resolutions include enough monies for all of their subcommittee’s needs. Just as the President has weighted FDA against competing priorities, so must the Hill. Action will accelerate through the Spring time period, with hearings, mark-ups and negotiations. Congress will be trying to get appropriations done early (by September 15?), so that it is not keeping them in DC when they would prefer to be home campaigning.

Right now, the Alliance is scheduling meetings with both House and Senate appropriators, primarily those who are on the Agriculture/FDA subcommittee.

A hard fight is not the same as an impossible fight. FDA is worth our efforts to secure more appropriated funding. This battle is winnable.

Note: This analysis and commentary is written by Steven Grossman, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance.

MEDIA/NEWS

UPCOMING EVENTS

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering is holding its annual event: Investment in Innovation: Translational Research to Build New Frontiers on February 23rd at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington DC.

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