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House Mark-up for FY 11 Appropriations Due Tuesday

July 25, 2010


On Tuesday, July 27 the House Appropriations Committee will mark-up the Agriculture/FDA FY 11 appropriations bill.  Please see below for more information and analysis on the mark up.


Letters to HHS Secretary Sebelius.  Thank you to Alliance members who have written some  excellent letters to Secretary Sebelius regarding the FY 2012 Budget Process.  We are continuing to urge Alliance members who have not written letters to please do so and to please share with us your letter when it is complete as we are continuing to post them on our website.


On Tuesday, July 27, at 3 p.m., the House Appropriations Committee will mark-up the Agriculture/FDA FY 11 appropriations bill. This will provide greater clarity on the FDA appropriations situation in the House of Representatives. We will be looking for two types of  information.

The first is macro-budgetary. The Agriculture/FDA subcommittee may spend up to $23.1 billion dollars on discretionary programs in FY 11. This is $204 million less than the subcommittee was allocated in FY 10 and $27 million less than the President’s FY 11 request. So some programs will, necessarily, be funded at a lower level in FY 11.

There are a number of programs that are technically categorized as “discretionary,” but in fact the subcommittee has to treat them as “mandatory.”  A notable example is the WIC program, which provides supplemental food and nutrition support for low-income women with infants and children or who are pregnant. The program was funded at $7.25 billion in FY 10, almost a third of all spending in the Ag/FDA funding bill. More on the program can be found at:

These “discretionary programs that are really mandatory” are funded first, then the subcommittee figures out how much is left for every other program (such as FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the Agriculture Department). When food prices are rising or the economy is poor, the cost of WIC increases and there is downward pressure on monies available for other discretionary programs. The reverse can also be true, if food prices are lower or the economy is good (so there are fewer low-income women), then there may be more money for the discretionary programs in the Agriculture/FDA appropriations bill.

In some years, FDA’s appropriation is partly dependent on the assumptions that the House and Senate make about WIC spending for the following year.  The House seems to have used a different projection for FY 11 WIC spending than the Senate. After Tuesday’s mark-up, we will know more about the House allocation for WIC and the rationale for its lower (more favorable) projection.

The other clarifying information is micro-budgetary.  The House appropriations subcommittees don’t file their reports until after full committee mark-up. Based on the Chairwoman’s press release, we know the subcommittee’s total recommendation for FDA and some information about the targeting of increases above the President’s request. We don’t know about the center and office allocations within FDA or the nature and directions contained in report language.

Tuesday night or Wednesday, the House appropriations committee is likely to file its report to accompany the FY 11 Agriculture/FDA appropriations bill. We will then have both macro- and micro-budgetary information that we seek. As soon as we complete our analysis, we will send a report to the Alliance membership.

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



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