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Advocacy at a Glance

November 22, 2013

Advocacy at a Glance offers you the bullet point summary of current advocacy issues associated with the goals of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

  • Thanksgiving Recess Begins, Lawmakers Set for End-Of-The-Year Sprint When They Return. Congress leaves town today with both the House and the Senate scheduled to be on a 10-day Thanksgiving recess.  Both chambers are expected to be back in session on December 2nd. When lawmakers return they will be focused on budget issues as a House-Senate Budget Conference Committee races to meet a December 13th deadline for making recommendations on a FY 2014 budget framework. Keep in mind that December 13th is a soft deadline for the Budget Conference recommendations, and the hard deadline is January 15th, which is when the Federal government would shut down if a spending bill is not passed.
  • Rumors of Progress on Budget Talks: Still Rumors. In an article on Wednesday, Politico reported possible progress in the House-Senate budget negotiations. While stressing that no deal is ready or even certain, the article states that “the changing dynamics are the result of several factors: the fears among GOP defense hawks of deep Pentagon cuts in the new fiscal year; the desire of Republican leaders to avoid another disastrous shutdown fight; and the willingness of Democrats to consider other revenue raisers besides tax increases.”
  • GOP Appropriators Urge Swift Action on Budget Deal. In a regular order process, the Budget Committees set the topline Federal spending number, and then the Appropriations Committee divides up how that money will be spent. On Monday, the 13 top Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee joined in signing a letter urging the members of the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee to “redouble” their efforts and report a top-line number for discretionary spending for the remainder of FY14 and the full year of FY15. The appropriators requested this information before Thanksgiving — or no later than December 2nd.  “If a timely agreement is not reached, the likely alternatives could have extremely damaging repercussions,” warns the letter. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R, KY) led in organizing the letter and all 12 of his subcommittee chairs signed on as well. Steven Grossman provides further insight on the letter in today’s Analysis and Commentary.
  • CBO Projects Next Debt Ceiling Deadline Falling Between March and June of 2014.  Congress last month agreed to extend the borrowing limit until February 7, 2014.  After this date, the Treasury Department can activate emergency measures, which include cash flow techniques, that allow the government to continue spending money for a limited time.  On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on federal debt in which it projected that the U.S. government “will be unable to fully pay its obligations starting in March, but depending on the timing and magnitude of tax refunds and receipts in February, March, and April, the Treasury might be able to continue borrowing into May or early June.”  To view the CBO report please click here.
  • Congressional Letter Urges OMB to Reverse Its Decision that User Fees Be Included in the FY 13 Sequester.  A Congressional letter was circulated by Representative Yoder (R, KS)  and sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asking that OMB reconsider its decision to have the FY 13 sequester apply to user fees. Congressman Yoder serves on the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee.
  • House Holds Hearing on FDASIA’s One-Year Anniversary. Last Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on FDASIA and heard testimony from CDER’s Janet Woodcock and CDRH’s Jeff Shuren. While not the purpose of the hearing, it provided a platform for the two center directors to discuss the impact of sequestration on their ability to carry out their centers’ missions. The hearing can be seen here.
  • Track and Trace/Drug Compounding Bill Passes Congress; Will Become Law When President Signs. Congress may not be passing much substantive legislation this year, but FDA continues to be an area where bipartisan, bicameral legislating continues. The House and the Senate agreed upon a bill — negotiated over the last 2 years — that will create a uniform track and trace system for drug products and also extend FDA’s mandate to regulate the quality of drugs compounded by stand-alone facilities. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.
  • Hamburg Interview to be Broadcast Sunday. Commissioner Hamburg will answer questions about the future of FDA, the importance of change, and new program initiatives in drugs and diagnostics on BioCentury Today. The interview will be posted online Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and can be found on the BioCenturyTV web site.
  • No Friday Update Next Week; Next Issue December 6. There will be no Advocacy at a Glance or Analysis and Commentary updates next week. The Alliance wishes you a happy Thanksgiving and lots to be thankful for. Out next updates will be on December 6.

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