Skip to content

The FDA and the State of the Union Address

January 29, 2010


Agriculture Appropriators Meetings: Next week the The Alliance is set to meet with the staff of the following members:

  • Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) — on Monday
  • Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) — on Tuesday
  • Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) — on Tuesday
  • Representative Jesse Jackson (D-IL) — on Wednesday
  • Representative Tom Latham (R-IA) — on Wednesday
  • Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) — on Thursday
  • Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) — on Thursday

Alliance Member Meeting: Tuesday, February 9th at 2:00 pm.


The President’s State of the Union address gave no clues as to the fate of the FDA budget for FY 11. Instead, we have to wait for the details in the President’s Budget Request that will be released on Monday, February 1.

As described below, it usually requires some analysis to determine the correct budget authority (BA) appropriations request from the President. It is more than just copying numbers from a chart. The Alliance is committed to providing an update to members early next week with precise details.

What the State of the Union didn’t tell us. There was hope that the President would make reference to FDA or touch upon food safety. This didn’t occur and there was almost nothing on public health in the address. Even a reference to cancer research did not lead to a mention of support for NIH.

The President announced a three-year freeze on discretionary domestic spending, followed by inflationary increases for the rest of the decade. Within this, some agencies and programs will continue to grow, while others will need to be cut substantially or eliminated. Other than to exclude defense, veteran’s affairs, and entitlements, the President did not give any indication of who would be favored with budget increases.

What to expect when the President’s budget request is released. It will be confusing. Increased revenue from existing and new user fees is likely to be included in reported totals — for the purposes of claiming that the President is allocating new resources to FDA. This will mask whether the non-user fee BA appropriations (public funds) will increase under the President’s request.

Media often report straight from the OMB summary sheets, so don’t believe any reported numbers or claimed increases … unless the source is explicit about monies from user fees versus monies from BA appropriations. Another potential point of confusion is whether the user fees that fund the new Tobacco Center will be represented as providing more resources to FDA. Clearly, these funds are a wash for the agency — new revenue will exactly match new responsibilities.

The distribution of any new funds among the FDA functions is also important to watch. It is possible, for example, for food safety to receive increases while the rest of FDA is flat-funded. Even then, a reported increase in food funding might be a new, unauthorized user fee, rather than dollars that can be relied upon.

Looking strictly at BA appropriations, FDA received $2.35 billion for FY 10. Based on year-over-year inflation in FDA costs, the agency needs an increase of $120 to $140 million just to maintain current staffing and program levels. Any less will mean cutbacks within the Agency.

It is possible the President’s request will include new responsibilities for FDA. Unless separate additional funding is provided, this will also hinder efforts to strengthen the agency.

For comparison purposes, FDA received a $306 million increase in FY 10. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA has been recommending a $500 million increase for FY 11.

What Congress does next. Just as the President has weighed FDA against competing priorities, so must Congress. Action will accelerate through the Spring, with hearings, mark-ups and negotiations. Congress will be trying to get appropriations done by September 15, well before the elections.

Why advocacy is essential to funding the FDA. The Alliance has been a potent force over the last 3 years, successfully reversing a decade of budgetary neglect of FDA. The Alliance needs your support to continue its work in what appears to be a very rough year.

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


Comments are closed.