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Advocacy at a Glance

March 13, 2015

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.

  • Sign Up for Alliance Lobby Day on Wednesday, March 18. In past years, we have managed to visit 50 or more offices on Lobby Day to promote understanding of FDA’s resource needs. To sign up for morning or afternoon meetings (or both) on March 18, please contact Tony Curry. In this week’s Analysis and Commentary, Alliance deputy executive director, Steven Grossman, talks about the “core narrative of FDA funding” and how it relates to Lobby Day.
  • Senate FDA Appropriations Hearing March 12. Commissioner Hamburg testified before the Senate Ag/FDA appropriations subcommittee this week, with results that might be described as “upbeat.” Much more so than in the House, Senators were positive about the agency and willing to acknowledge that FDA’s responsibilities are both vast and growing. In her comments, Dr. Hamburg stressed that taxpayers receive a substantial return on their investment in FDA. In addition to assuring safe foods and supporting effective and lifesaving new treatments, the agency is taking on many new assignments. Finally: FDA recognizes intense pressure on spending, but feels that FDA has earned more resources.
  • Fiscal Cliffs Update. As described here, Congress faces a series of “fiscal cliffs” — where fundamental differences separate the two Houses and the lack of agreement has immediate and serious consequences for the federal budget and prospects for FY 16 appropriations funding. The next fiscal cliff is the updating of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula used to pay Medicare physicians. Media have reported that Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi are working on a far-reaching deal that  might pass the House and be accepted by the Senate.
  • House and Senate to Start Work on FY 16 Budget Resolutions. Over the last few years, the Senate has not worked on passing budget resolutions, reflecting the perceived futility of such an exercise in the face of partisan disagreements. In contrast, the House has passed annual budget resolutions, but they have only had modest impact on the House and none on the Senate. Current plans are for the House Budget Committee to release its draft on March 17. Meantime, the Senate Budget Committee has scheduled 2 days of mark-ups, starting on Wednesday, March 18.
  • On the Campaign Trail. Under the tax laws for 501(c)(4) organizations and consistent with its by-laws, the Alliance is forbidden to engage in partisan electoral politics. However, we are certainly aware that next year is a Presidential election year plus 435 House seats and approximately 33 Senate seats will be on the ballot. And we are concerned how those campaigning view the FDA. From time to time, we will share what is being said. The first of these reports comes out of an Iowa summit for Republican Presidential candidates. According to Politico, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said “he thinks the Obama administration’s push for food safety regulations … is ‘a solution in search of a problem.’” He further added: “I don’t see major concerns about food safety across this country.” Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was, at one point, “railing against food from other countries saying ‘God help us when we start importing food.’”

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