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A Re-statement of Our Position on FY 12 Appropriations

July 30, 2011

On Friday evening the House adopted the Boehner debt limit/deficit reduction bill, which has already been pronounced “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Thus, the fight is still going on, with no end in sight. While we are waiting for that to resolve, I thought it would be useful to restate the Alliance’s position on FY 12 appropriations for FDA … and why our position is so important for the Alliance and the FDA.

For FY 12, the administration requested that FDA receive a $282 million increase over its FY 11 base. In contrast, the House is proposing a $284 million cut from the FY 11 base. That means the “best case” and “worst case” are over $550 million apart. Where we wind uu will partly depend on how much the Agriculture/FDA appropriations subcommittees are given to spend. That will be decided during or after the debt limit/deficit reduction legislation reaches final form and becomes law.

Regardless of the subcommittee allocation, the other key factor is whether Congress understands how important FDA is and why it needs continued funding increases. That means our advocacy efforts need to be effective. In making our points, we often focus on how the House position is an 11.5% decrease in FDA funding. This makes sense because it is the way the Hill is thinking these days.

Nonetheless, our position is that we support the President’s request (in total dollars). Which means we also need to take another number seriously: that the House position is a 21% decrease from the President’s request. Not only does FDA risk losing some of its existing FY 11 programs (the 11.5% cut), but it also risks losing the key initiatives in food and drug safety, advancing innovation in the life sciences, regulatory science and so on in the President’s budget request (which is the other 10% cut).

It seems highly unlikely that Congress will provide a $282 million increase for FDA in FY 12. In the end, we may wind up being grateful if FDA breaks even and sustains no cuts.

Even so, the President’s request is a statement of what FDA needs to do its job. Regardless of the political environment and what compromises we may need to make, we should not forget that the proposed House position is a 21% cut (from the President’s request), just as much as it is an 11.5% cut from the House position.

FDA’s responsibilities are not static — each year the agency is asked to do more (and needs to do more even if it isn’t asked!). As advocates, we shouldn’t be suggesting that level funding, essentially a static budget, allows FDA to accomplish its mission.

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

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