A Thank You … and Now on to FY 17
At the beginning of today’s Advocacy at a Glance, we say “thank you” to the House and Senate appropriators and their staffs. With more money to spend overall (because of last Fall’s bipartisan budget bill), the Appropriation committees had hundreds of agencies they could have elevated with more funding and more attention. They chose FDA to be one of those that benefited by receiving extra monies.
To be more specific, the House and Senate bills marked up earlier in the year would have given FDA between $30 and $40 million. Instead, FDA received an increase of about $130 million, a more than threefold difference. The bulk of the money will go to implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, a pressing need.
Let me emphasize our particular thanks to the appropriations committee staffs, who once again face the prospect of moving straight from one appropriations year to the next. FY 16 was resolved in mid-December; FY 17 has already begun and will escalate when details of the President’s Budget Request are released by OMB on February 9.
As has been widely discussed, 2016 will have many fewer legislative days, in part because both presidential conventions are in July. Also, less legislative output is expected because it is an election year with the certainty of a new President in January 2017. This all presents a highly challenging year for appropriators and their staffs.
Ultimately, in the end Congress may pass a 6-month Continuing Resolution in late September or early October and go home to campaign. However, that is not the current plan for this year. Instead, the Appropriations chairs and House and Senate leadership have all committed to a regular appropriations cycle, with bills emerging from committee, being voted upon on the floor, and eventually resolved in a House-Senate conference. The bulk of that work will need to be done before the conventions, giving the process at least two fewer months to reach agreement and move the bulk of the 12 appropriations bills.
Walking the schedule backwards, this means the budget resolution needs to be settled by late February/early March. Committee hearings will need to be pushed through in March, with a bit left for April. Committee mark-ups will need to start by early April, with the first (easiest) bills targeted for final passage by May. The remaining bills would need to be cleaned up in June and September.
We have no idea if this hurry-up appropriations agenda is realistic. We just know the effort is going to be made. Accordingly, we are speeding up our advocacy activities for the year.
Alliance members should prepare to be busier sooner than in past years, particularly Congressional meetings. At each meeting with staff, we will make a point of saying “thank you” for favorable treatment in FY 16.
Note: This week’s Analysis and Commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.