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Change Is Unsettling … But Our Message Remains the Same

November 7, 2014

A “wave” election brings an enormous amount of change because working relationships in political Washington are suddenly in flux. Every Senate committee will have a new chairman, the House and Senate will presumably be working together closely where they were barely talking before, and each body will need to forge a new way to relate to the President. Even people whose fortunes are rising (primarily Republicans) are uncertain what comes next. In sum, change may be welcome or unwelcome, but either way it is unsettling.

As I wrote last week:

Once the election is over, all other public commentary will be drowned out by the sudden rush to know: how will the victors govern and what does this mean for my concerns?

That was the gist of the several press calls we received asking about FDA.

With regard to changes in leadership, particularly on the Appropriations committees, most articles we’ve read projected future positions based on the assumption that Members who are returning will mostly keep their current roles. However, that is not necessarily true.

For example, the individuals who are ranking members on the Senate Appropriations/Agriculture-FDA subcommittee and the Senate HELP full committee may become the new chairs. However, any Republican Senator with a decent amount of seniority will have choices to make and those will cascade down and affect the choices of others. Party caucuses over the next 2 to 3 weeks will resolve this. Meantime, the Alliance’s position, when asked by reporters, has been: “We expect to work well with whoever is chosen for these two chairmanships that are so pivotal for FDA.”

Likewise, when asked about the impact of a Republican-led Senate on the FDA, we have told reporters:

Historically both Republicans and Democrats have recognized the value of FDA and we expect that to continue. FDA’s responsibilities represent a national priority and no other federal or state agency is equipped to carry them out. FDA is a regulator and a public health agency, as well as a having a pivotal role in working with industries that contribute to job-formation and growing the economy. We believe that FDA will do well as long as the appropriations process is based on funding national priorities rather than across-the-board solutions.

Because of FDA’s important role in protecting the public health and regulating a broad section of the US economy, interest and support for the agency has always been bipartisan. Both parties want the agency to do its job successfully. Based on this, the Alliance has always had a bipartisan and consensus building approach to working with policymakers. As leadership works through who will be sitting in which chairs, the Alliance is confident that our message will be well received.

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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