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Advocacy at a Glance

June 12, 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.

  • Agriculture/FDA Appropriations Bills Lose Priority Positioning. For several years from a timing perspective, the Ag/FDA appropriations bills have been considered by the House and Senate around the middle of the 12 annual discretionary funding bills. This year, it looks like both House and Senate agriculture appropriations subcommittees will mark-up the Ag/FDA bills toward the end of the bills to be considered. What this means — and its possible consequences — are the topic of this week’s Analysis and Commentary.
  • 21st Century Cures Legislation Threatened by ACA Reform. House Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores (R, TX) has suggested that “innovative” legislation to reform the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) might be merged with the “innovative” 21st Century Cures bill (H.R. 6), with the best provisions of each bill going into a final House health care reform package. Because Cures is bipartisan (51-0 committee vote) and ACA reforms are partisan and divisive, such a merger would significantly decrease the likelihood that Cures would become law. By week’s end, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton made clear that he wanted Cures advanced on its own.
  • June 17 Roundtable Discussion with FDA’s Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.  The Alliance and our members are holding a roundtable discussion with FDA’s Michael Taylor on June 17 at 10:00 a.m.  The event will focus on FY 16 and FY 17 appropriations for FDA’s food program, including funding of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  To RSVP and for more information, please e-mail Tony Curry.
  • Politico Warns: Get Ready for a Gridlocked Summer. The pace of legislative activity in the Senate is likely to slow considerably this summer. According to Politico:

Minority Leader Harry Reid foreshadowed the shift recently with vows to essentially shut down the appropriations process and block highway and defense bills unless Republicans move markedly to the left. With deadlines looming on several must-pass bills, the stage is set for brinkmanship that could last through the summer and into the thick of the 2016 presidential primary season.

  • Dueling Rumors: Will Lack of Larger Budget Deal Stall Appropriations Process? BNA reports the following stand-off: Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA), fourth-ranking Democrat and former head of the Budget Committee said:

[Republicans] can either work with us early on a bipartisan budget deal that will set the topline budget levels and allow the Appropriations Committee to work on bills that can be signed into law or, they can wait until we reach a crisis, until we approach or hit another completely unnecessary government shutdown — and work with us then.

In contrast, Politico observes that:

Congressional Republicans are calling Democrats’ bluff on government spending and vowing to press ahead with funding bills despite filibuster threats from the left — a move that deepens a standoff between both parties and all but ensures an all-out spending war this summer. Senate Democrats have threatened to blockade the GOP’s spending bills from the floor in a bid to force negotiations to raise strict budget caps. But Republicans aren’t even batting an eyelash in response and plan to stay the course on their own spending bills.

Of possible impact is that the budget deficit seems to be narrowing according to CBO, perhaps creating a little bit of additional maneuvering room for House and Senate negotiations.

  • Former Alliance Board Member Caroline Smith DeWaal to Join FDA.  According to Food Safety News, former Alliance Board member and co-founder Caroline Smith DeWaal is leaving the Center for Science in the Public Interest to join FDA this month. She will serve as CFSAN’s international food safety policy manager and work on developing systems for improving the safety of imported foods. This will continue her recent focus on global food safety.

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