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Alliance Lobby Day is Coming Soon!

February 26, 2010

ADVOCACY

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

  • Senator Sam Brownback (R-KA)
  • Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA)
  • Senator Kit Bond (R-MO)  

Please RSVP for  2010 Alliance Lobby Day, Thursday, March 11.   The Alliance’s annual hill-advocacy day will occur on Thursday, March 11.  Please see below for more background on Lobby Day.

Upcoming FDA Budget Hearings

  • House Agriculture Appropriations FDA Budget Hearing, Wednesday, March 10.  More details regarding the hearing will be forwarded when they become available.
  • Senate Agriculture Appropriations FDA Budget Hearing will be held on or around March 10.  More details and exact date will be forwarded as they become available.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

On March 11, less than two weeks away, the Alliance will hold its third annual lobby day. Advocating for FDA resources is a year-round activity, but this is our big day. We are working to make it bigger and better than last year, when 8 teams held more than 50 Hill meetings in one day.

If you are a veteran of past efforts, you may skip to the last paragraph for sign-up information. For the rest of you: here is a quick primer on being an advocate for a stronger FDA.

Despite being part of the Department of Health and Human Services, appropriations for FDA are part of the funding legislation for the Department of Agriculture and related agencies. As a result, our primary appropriators are concerned about the adequacy of funding for the WIC feeding program and the Ag Department’s Food Safety and Inspection, instead of NIH and CDC.  This never actually seems to be a problem — everyone is interested in the FDA and there is near-universal concern that the agency receive adequate funding.

On the Senate side, the agriculture appropriations subcommittee chairman is Herbert Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin. The ranking minority member is Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. Both have been strong supporters of the FDA over the past few years. On the House side, the agriculture appropriations subcommittee chairman is Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut. The ranking minority member is Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia. They are also strong supporters of FDA.

Each year, our initial lobbying starts with the subcommittee members, then moves to other appropriations committee members and then the authorizing committees. There can be considerable overlap. Of the 30 members of the Senate appropriations committee, 14 are on the ag subcommittee and at least 7 are on the Senate HELP Committee. In the House, the overlap is much less, meaning far more people for us to visit. Of the 60 members of the House appropriations committee, 13 are on the agriculture subcommittee. None of the 13 are on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Hill staff are almost always impressed by the breadth of the Alliance membership. We get full credit for representing the entire FDA stakeholder community. Most offices respond to arguments based on the public health benefits of a strong FDA; a small but substantial minority of offices also resonate to the message that a strong FDA is good for the US economy and is a good investment. We express appreciation for three good years of funding, but stress that we have not yet overcome almost 15 years of funding neglect.

Lobby day starts with a briefing and a review of advocacy materials. Even if you can only join us for part of the day, please participate and show your support. Contact Tony Curry to sign-up. Let him know if there are offices where you or your group have good visibility or a home-state connection. Also let him know if you can be available on other days to meet with Hill staff.

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

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