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Positive Movement … But Watch This Space

July 10, 2010

ADVOCACY

Letters to HHS Secretary Sebelius.  We are asking Alliance members to please send letters to Secretary Sebelius advocating for increased funding for the FDA in the FY 2011 Budget Process.  Please share your letter with us when it is complete as we plan on posting them on our website.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY

As you know, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held its FY2011 markup last week. Please see the following links for more details on the markup:

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

If today’s column were to have a title, it would be “Progress!”

Just before the July 4 recess, the House Agriculture/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee held a subcommittee mark-up. In the face of the ever-tightening federal budget situation, the subcommittee recommended increases for FDA, totaling $55 million over the President’s FY 11 budget request.  The total would be a $214 million increase over FY 10. Our press release expresses gratitude to Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Kingston and the subcommittee members.

We keep saying: FDA needs to be an exception to current budget cutting.  This shows that the Hill agrees. The higher mark represents extra dollars for FDA to fulfill its responsibilities in FY 2011, as well as an affirmation of our lobbying and communications strategies.

Even more is at stake than this suggests. We are told that the agriculture/FDA appropriations bill is likely to be one of the first to be considered by both Houses, but this may not prove to be the case.  Further, it is possible the entire appropriations process will break down. At some point, the remaining federal agencies and programs will be wrapped up into a continuing resolution (CR) that could last for all of fiscal year 2011. 

CRs are notorious for producing tight budgets. The algorithm is often: “the lesser of the House and  Senate bills” or “the lesser of the House bill and the president’s request.” It is a means to “round down” every agency appropriation. In FY 07, FDA was spared. The CR pegged FDA at a higher level that it would have otherwise received. Were FDA to be funded again through a CR, then the House subcommittee mark might be the only basis for Congress to fund FDA at a level higher than the President’s request.  

We are hopeful that the Senate subcommittee will mark-up its agriculture/FDA appropriations bill this month and provide the FDA with the same or a higher level. That would provide a second reference point for FDA’s FY 11 funding. Every time a higher number is approved by a subcommittee, committee or on the House or Senate floor, we are closer to a better-funded FDA in FY 11 and more likely to be seen as an exception to the cost-cutting levels that might be set in the CR.

Personally, I think there will be a final agriculture/FDA appropriations bill for the President to sign. However, planning for our position in a CR is a prudent exercise.   

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

MEDIA ACTIVITIES/RELEVANT DOCUMENTS

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