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Advocacy at a Glance

June 29, 2019

House Passes H.R. 3055, Including Ag/FDA Appropriations. For the FDA, the first major step in the appropriations process was completed this week, with House passage of H.R. 3055 (by a vote of 227-194). This is a five-bill minibus that provides about $380 billion in FY 20 spending for Agriculture-FDA, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, and Transportation-HUD.  Under this bill, FDA would receive a $185 million increase for FY 20, taking its total BA funding to $3.26 billion per year.

After the July 4 recess, the House will still need to address Homeland Security (now probably the most difficult bill to craft) and the Legislative Branch (controversy over a possible pay raise for Members of Congress). Once those are completed, the House will have finished all 12 subcommittee bills and will wait for the Senate to catch up. It is unclear whether the Senate will conference bills with the House prior to the adoption of a budget deal.

Senate to Start Appropriations in July; Still Awaits Budget Deal. With no budget deal in sight, the Senate is prepared to “deem” a set of budget numbers and proceed in July to mark-up an FY 20 appropriations bill. This allows the process to move forward and Senators to sort out their priorities, but everyone understands that final adjustments will be needed once there is a budget deal that provides definitive spending amounts and constraints. Senate leadership has said only that they would be starting with lower aggregate numbers than the House.

Budget Deal: No Visible Progress. The absence of a budget deal on defense and non-defense spending ceilings (explained here and here) is holding back the appropriations process, as House and Senate leadership have both affirmed. There were no meetings this week — at least not in public view. The FY 19 Emergency Supplemental that was adopted by both Houses this week may have accounted for that. Most of those individuals who were key to passage of the supplemental are also key to reaching a budget deal.

FDA and the Federal Budget: CBO Describes the Long-Term Challenge. Reporting from DC is largely focused on current news; the event horizon is the 16 months until the next election. Breaking that mold, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) drew a lot attention this week with a report on the long-term prospects for bringing government revenue and spending into alignment. The key finding: based on current law assumptions,

large budget deficits over the next 30 years are projected to drive federal debt held by the public to unprecedented levels — from 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 to 144 percent by 2049.

This week’s Analysis and Commentary explores how such macro-forecasting has implications for FDA, even though the agency’s BA funding is only about 0.3% of federal discretionary spending.

No Friday Update on July 5. We will return with the next edition on July 12. We wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July.

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