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Advocacy at a Glance

July 19, 2019

Put the Bubbly Back in the Fridge: No Budget Deal Quite Yet.  Normally, Friday Update is written Thursday night and last minute updates are added in on Friday morning. We didn’t even bother writing Update last night — believing that the celebratory story of Thursday night (budget deal near completion) was likely to be overtaken by a sobering reality on Friday morning. And, thus it has been.

On Thursday, he (Treasury Secretary Mnuchin) said: we have “reached an agreement“ on a two-year plan covering budget caps and debt limits. She (House Speaker Pelosi) said: “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, but we are on our way. … We have a path.” By Friday morning, House Democrats had rejected a White House list of offsets to pay for some of the funding increases and there appeared to be no agreement on deleting poison bill policy riders. It seems likely that staff-level negotiations will continue over the weekend and, undoubtedly, the principals will be available if needed.

A Budget Deal is Still Possible — Sooner than Later.  Speaker Pelosi’s rejection of the White House list of offsets is a setback to negotiations. Yet, arguably, there is more good news than bad. Reportedly, there is agreement on defense and non-defense spending levels for FY 20 and 21. If true (and it holds), this is a huge step forward. “The devil is in the details” and we may be far from a comprehensive agreement, but it is also true that most of those details couldn’t even be discussed until a spending level compromise has been reached.

Senate Path Forward: Get a Deal in Place; Then Work Overtime.  As has been reported here multiple time, the Senate Appropriations Committee has wanted to move bills forward for weeks. Chairman Shelby would probably have been willing to deem a set of spending numbers to get the process started, but Republican leadership has restrained that effort, viewing it as fruitless without a budget agreement. The current feeling (subject to change) is that the Senate could process most or all of the appropriations bills in September, but only if the framework of a budget agreement is in place and a massive amount of committee work is done in August. With the House bills already passed (except Legislative Branch and Homeland Security), it would even be possible for staff to reach consensus numbers that could pass the Senate and would be acceptable to the House.

In this Macro-Budgetary Drama, Is FDA Okay? The answer for today is, “Yes.” We need the larger budget issues to be played out, then have reasonable hope that FDA will receive a nice funding increase for FY 20. The House, at a $185 million increase (6%), would be a nice increment after two good prior years. However, no agency is ever safe. This week’s Analysis and Commentary discusses how situations can change rapidly, and why it is never a good idea to let up on advocacy and education efforts.

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