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Alliance Hill Day: Important Feedback to Members

March 21, 2014

Hill Day is in the books! By all accounts, it was very successful. The materials we used to support our efforts — a one-page summary and a short Power Point deck — are attached.

Here is what we hope Congressional staffers heard:

  • The services provided by FDA are core responsibilities of government.
  • In a time of tight budgets, FDA needs to be a priority.
  • The FDA has received increased funding, for which we thank Congress, but it is still inadequate to make up for decades of underfunding and new and growing mandates that the agency must carry out.
  • In particular, increasing globalization and scientific complexity require additional resources every year.
  • As a result of shortfalls and growing responsibilities, the agency’s mission is “at risk.”

Here is what we heard from a large number of Hill staffers in response:

  • We understand what FDA does and over the last few years have been been impressed with what they are doing and their responsiveness in the face of a lot of new responsibilities.
  • We recognize there are often problems because of the complexity of the issues and see why more manpower is needed, not less.
  • We support FDA, see them as a priority, and want to be sure they are funded.

Why was the response generally so good? I hope this is a sign that years of educating Hill staffers is paying off, but I don’t know that for sure. Perhaps one clue: the responses from members of the authorizing committees were particularly well-articulated and seemed to reflect what they have learned from bipartisan negotiations over the scope and details of FDA’s growing responsibilities. Watching FDA from up-close seems to have a positive effect.

I am encouraged by Hill day — the agency seems to be starting the year with more goodwill than I have seen in at least a decade. However, the battle for increased appropriations for FDA is just beginning. We need to build on that goodwill. We need to keep reminding staffers that FDA is not only worthy of support, but that it is a priority even when there are competing worthwhile uses for federal monies. Please continue to make FDA appropriations a part of all your Hill visits and your organizations’ lobby days.

Thank you for those who made time to participate in the Alliance’s Hill lobby day. Also, please join us in early May for our FDA 101 Hill meetings, which are aimed at the staff of freshmen and sophomore Members of Congress. If we can create friends and admirers of FDA in those offices, our job in the coming years will be easier.

Note: This week’s analysis and commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA

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