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Advocacy at a Glance

March 20, 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.

  • Hill Lobby Day a Success. The Alliance held its Hill lobby day this past Wednesday, March 18. Forty Alliance members participated in 50 Hill meetings. Some thoughts on the Alliance’s position and what we said … and what Hill staffers said in response … is covered in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.
  • Fiscal Cliffs Update. As described here, Congress faces a series of “fiscal cliffs” — where fundamental differences separate the two Houses and there are immediate and serious consequences for the federal budget and appropriations. Congress is currently negotiating legislation that would resolve two of the cliffs: the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula used to pay Medicare physicians and renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The core of a deal seems to have been worked out, but the details are proving troublesome to some key factions. One issue is the nature and extent of offsetting savings (billions of dollars are required). Yet another is the duration of the CHIP reauthorization and whether more costs should be shifted to the States. It is not clear if these issues (and others) can be resolved before the March 31 deadline for fixing the SGR.
  • House and Senate Release Details of their FY 16 Budget Resolutions. The draft House and Senate budget resolutions are quite different in details. Notably, the House would achieve higher defense spending levels by cutting non-defense spending, as well using the off-budget war fund to provide a further boost. The Senate budget resolution adheres strictly to the budget ceilings as passed in 2011, but gains savings by cuts in federal entitlement programs. Initially, the Senate did not accept the House’s proposed use of the war expense fund to bolster defense spending. However, this appears to have been reversed in mark-up. Both houses are dealing with a “defense hawks” vs. “deficit hawks” conflict because a number of members want the deficit reduced further, regardless of the impact on defense. The fate of non-defense spending is separate, but very much affected by the resolution of the defense spending issues. So far, there are three camps: those who would cut non-defense below the cap level; those who would fund non-defense at the cap level, while increasing defense; and those who feel that the defense fight is indicative that the caps are too low for both defense and non-defense. No one knows how this three-way dynamic will play out.
  • Budget Process Primer Available. The House and Senate budget resolutions fit into a set of budget control mechanisms. For a better understanding of the terms and issues, we recommend this budget process overview.

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