Time to Face Up to the Future
Overall, the legislative situation in Congress is a mess. This is compounded by election year maneuvering. As a result, even though we are not even to the mid-point of the year, many on the Hill are already sizing up the endgame. There are more permutations than a Rubik’s cube. For our purposes, here is the bottom line:
- Ag/FDA appropriations bills are ready for consideration in both the House and the Senate. One or the other body, or both, might take them up in July. Even though FDA gets only a modest increase under these bills, it would be better for these bills to pass than for FDA to be funded under a Continuing Resolution, as explained here.
- Increasingly, senior people (both Houses, both parties) are talking about what legislative items might get added to: the “must pass” opioid addiction legislation or the appropriations bills or a CR/omnibus to fund the government for FY 17. A number of items from the House Energy and Commerce and Senate HELP committee dockets, including parts of CURES /Innovations, are rumored to be in those discussions, even while there is still optimism that the logjam in the Senate will break free.
- The Hill generally expects to get more time to work in an after-election lame duck session, but that’s not certain. Even if there is one, history tells us that productive lame duck sessions are a rarity.
We continue to press for more/better funding for FDA, pointing to growth in responsibilities on the medical product side and FSMA inplementation on the food side. While there may yet be additional opportunities this year, we are starting to plan for next year’s upheaval: a new President, a Senate closer to 50/50 either way, and perhaps a narrower Republican majority in the House. We can be sure of two things: FDA will be underfunded relative to its responsibilities and there will be plenty of new faces to educate.
Note: This week’s Analysis and Commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.