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Advocacy at a Glance

March 22, 2019

Alliance Hill Day Tops 60 Meetings. Alliance staff and members visit Capitol Hill year-round to advocate for FDA funding. A highlight is Hill Day, when we gather our members for a large number of meetings in a single day. This year we had eight teams that completed more than 60 meetings — with appropriators, authorizers, and leadership.  What I heard: the FDA starts this appropriations cycle with a lot of goodwill on the Hill — a combination of (1) Dr. Gottlieb’s exceptional relationship with legislators, (2) ever greater sensitivity to the bad consequences of underfunding an agency upon which all Americans rely, and (3) the President’s request that makes FDA one of the few non-defense agencies recommended for a funding increase. More about Hill Day is contained in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

FDA Budget-in-Detail Released; Tops Out at 390 Pages. The Alliance is reviewing the detailed FY 20 budget request for FDA, trying to reconcile different program initiatives and funding levels contained in the narrative, charts, and tables. One source of confusion: the proposed increase for BA funding for FDA is $362 million above the FY 19 Continuing Resolution level (the base used in the President’s Request), which is about the same as $255 million above the FY 19 final enacted spending level. On the other hand — and quite clearly — the President has recommended new program initiatives totaling $42 million in food safety and about $370 million in medical products. Because of downward adjustments (offsets), the net number for food is +$38 million in new initiatives and for medical products +$316 million. The sum of all new program initiatives are the higher numbers. More about the budget-in-detail is also contained in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

House Appropriations Committee Sets April 5 Deadline for Public Witness Testimony for the Record; Senate Sets April 12. Every year, there is an opportunity for public (non-governmental) organizations to submit testimony for the Appropriations Committee record. This year, the House Ag/FDA subcommittee has set Friday, April 5 as the final day to submit testimony. The key documents are Instructions for Public Witness Testimony and Public Witness Truth in Testimony Form. We encourage Alliance member organizations to submit Statements for the Record. Information for Senate submissions is here. If you need additional information or assistance, contact Roger Szemraj.

House Appropriations Committee Could Start Mark-Ups in April. As reported in last week’s Advocacy at a Glance, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has expressed his intent to have all 12 appropriations bills passed by the House before July 1. To achieve this, he has said he will clear the House’s entire June calendar to move the bills. Consistent with this, the House Appropriations Committee is going to try to move the first of the appropriations bills in late April. Probably, the Defense, Labor-HHS, and Legislative Branch bills will be the first to move.  Military Construction-VA and Energy-Water round out the first five bills likely to move, although the order might vary. There is also talk of the House moving mini-bus bills, rather than individual ones. Presumably, this would involve putting DOD and Labor-HHS together, which was a successful approach with FY 19 funding.

Wayne Pines on the Durability of Dr. Gottlieb’s Legacy. Alliance Co-Founder, Board Member, and current Vice President, Wayne Pines wrote an op-ed, published in STAT, that explained why he believes that “the policy initiatives Scott Gottlieb championed at the FDA will remain after he departs.”

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