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Next Wednesday Is Hill Day … Be There!

March 11, 2011

ADVOCACY

  • Alliance for a Stronger FDA Hill Day, Wednesday, March 16.  We will be blanketing the Hill on Wednesday advocating for a Stronger FDA.  Your participation is needed to help ensure that our message for more funding for FDA is heard by members of Congress and their staffs.   There will be a brief orientation session at 9:00 am at 1333 New Hampshire Avenue (10th floor).    Participants will be receiving meeting schedules and background material early next week.  Given where we are at in the CR process, next week’s meetings will be critical to getting our message out. If you are interested in attending and have not yet rsvpd please do so by e-mailing Tony Curry.
  • Economic Impact of FDA Paper.  This past Monday the Alliance released its paper on the economic impact of the FDA, The Food and Drug Administration: A Cornerstone of America’s Economic Future. This paper helps to establish the critical role the FDA plays in the U.S. economy, and will be an important resource to explain why cutting the FDA could actually hurt, not help, the U.S. economy. 
  • House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Hearing.  FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg testified today on the agency’s FY 2012 Budget Request.  A copy of Commissioner Hamburg’s submitted testimony can be viewed here.    Chairman Kingston’s opening statement can be viewed here.
  • Senate Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing.  On Thursday, March 17 at 2 pm in Room 124 Dirksen, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg will testify on the agency’s FY 2012 Budget Request.
  • FY11 Continuing Resolution Expires on March 18.  The House has proposed a three-week short term continuing resolution (see Analysis and Commentary below for more information).

ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY

Nothing momentous today. But small things made it a good day nonetheless.

Today, the House Appropriations Committee announced its proposal for a 3-week Continuing Resolution through April 8. Following the ground-rules that it previously set, the House legislation includes $2 billion per week (total of $6 billion) in additional cuts/savings in FY 11 appropriations. Although we haven’t yet heard any reaction, it seems likely that the Senate will adopt this bill once the House passes it.

The new House CR appears to be structured much like the last one. The cuts are coming from unspent earmarks monies and programs already proposed for elimination by the President or Senate Democrats. So far, the cumulative $10 billion in FY 11 cuts have not required much (if any) sacrifice. At some point, the easy cuts will all have been made and tough decisions will need to be made. But Congress seems to be content to “kick the can” a little further down the road.

FDA has taken no losses, either in the current CR or the proposed CR. We like to think that any FDA cuts will be among the tough decisions … so we are safe for now. That made for a good day.

Also today, Commissioner Hamburg testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and FDA. Given the dramatically changed environment since the Commissioner testified a year ago on the FY 11 President’s request, this was a first chance to look at the new dynamics.

Chairman Kingston opened with a short statement that could be characterized as mild in tone and respectful of the agency.  He pointed to the fact that the President is requesting increases in almost every FDA program, but has offered less than $30 million in administrative savings. He concluded his remarks by stating: “I just want to let everyone know that despite all the work being done by the FDA on behalf of the American people, we will have to make some tough choices when deciding if these budget increases are in the best interest of our country.”

Commissioner Hamburg’s testimony could also be characterized as mild in tone and respectful of the Congress and the Chairman. She made the case for the FDA, characterizing it as having a unique role. She said: “FDA must do its job well because there is simply no other agency to fall back on, no one to backstop us.” Her testimony on the FY 12 President’s request emphasized the agency’s commitment to innovation, accountability and results and enumerated some of the agency’s accomplishments over the past year. She then described the Administration’s initiatives in Transforming Food Safety and Nutrition, Advancing Medical Countermeasures, Protecting Patients, and FDA Regulatory Science and Facilities. There was nothing groundbreaking in her testimony, just a well-thought out presentation of the President’s request.

A good first hearing on the FDA’s FY 12 budget request. That also contributed to making it a good day.

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

RELEVANT MEDIA/DOCUMENTS

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