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Senate Appropriations Committee Adopts $24 Million Increase for FDA

April 30, 2012

The Senate Appropriations Committee considered and adopted the FY 13 Ag-FDA appropriations bill on Thursday, April 26.  Committee staff have now filed the committee report, which is available at Senate Report 112-163. FDA is covered on pages 74-81.  In part, the Senate position is built on top of the President’s request, which had a confusing set of offsetting increases and decreases that were explained in the February 17 analysis and commentary.

In sum, the Senate committee has agreed to a $24 million increase for FDA above the FY 12 level. Essentially, this is the President’s request for a $11.5 million increase, with the Senate adding another $12.5 million specifically for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Under the bill, FDA’s budget authority appropriations would go from $2.506 billion in FY 12  to $2.530 billion in FY 13. According to the Committee, the increase is accounted for as follows:

  • Increases:  $47.1 million
    • $12.5 million for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act
    • $21.1 million for necessary expenses, mandatory rental payments, and facilities (we believe this includes funding for outfitting the new biological sciences building, but this is not confirmed)
    • $3.5 million for advancing medical countermeasures
    • $10.0 million for safety inspections in Chin
  • Decreases:   $23.2 million
    • $19.7 million in FDA-proposed information technology savings
    • $3.5 million in building and facilities repair
  • Net increase: $23.9 million

Our position (as expressed in the press release issued last week) is to be appreciative of the Senate’s actions … and we are. This is not an easy environment to be in favor of increasing the budgets of federal agencies. On the other hand, we have not retreated from our position that higher funding is needed, given the FDA’s vast responsibilities and importance to public health protection.  Even the Alliance’s request for an increase of $150 million is probably not enough to fund FDA’s many needs, but our request was held at this level in recognition of the difficulty in getting any increase for any federal programs this year.

What comes next? We have not been told when Senate will consider the Ag-FDA appropriations bill and whether it will be anytime soon.

Meantime, the House Ag-FDA appropriations subcommittee is likely to be marking up sometime in May. As discussed here previously, the House-passed FY 13 budget resolution decreases the amount available to the appropriations committees to spend by about $19 billion. For the Agriculture-FDA subcommittee, this means a cut below FY 12 of at least $375 million. However, the House allotment for Agriculture and FDA programs is about $1.3 billion below the amount that was available to the Senate when it voted yesterday. This suggests the possible need for a lot of cuts.

Because of the impact of certain mandatory spending, it is hard to judge exactly how deep the House will be cutting within the Agriculture-FDA jurisdiction.  Our feeling is that FDA funding is in substantial jeopardy when the House subcommittee marks up, but that there still may be room for required budget cuts to be allocated to programs other than FDA. So, we are guardedly hopeful about the House, even while the overall environment is not promising.

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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