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Full-Year CR: Better Than a Shutdown, But …

October 5, 2019

Prospects for a Full-Year CR. During Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby’s meeting with President Trump and OMB officials, he painted a bleak picture of FY 20 funding if negotiations break down or are blocked by the President. He told reporters afterward:

I mentioned that if we didn’t move the process, I told them we would be looking at another CR for three or four weeks, probably another one, and then one for the year.

Based on the past, that would mean the CR that runs through November 21 would be replaced first by a CR expiring before Christmas and then by one that might go somewhere into late January or maybe February 15. Whatever remains on the table when that last CR expires would be covered by a CR that would run through September 30, 2020, the end of the fiscal year. My own view is that — absent some serious progress before New Year’s — they might skip that last round and go straight to a full-year CR in December.

A full-year CR is an adverse outcome for most federal agencies, but especially for ones like FDA that have active agendas, evolving missions, and good uses for additional funds. We are hardly alone. Other public health agencies (mostly in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill) are likely to be hurt. And, thanks to Defense News, we even have a read on the Pentagon:

For the Defense Department, the CR would explicitly prevent new start programs and multi-year activities, with some limited exceptions. Pentagon officials are generally accepting of short-term CRs, but they would likely lobby hard against a year-long CR.

Having the generals on our side is probably a good thing if we want to avoid a full-year CR.

The only positive about a full-year CR: it is better than a shutdown.

FDA’s FY 20 Funding: House and Senate Bills Compared. Linked here is a chart comparing FY 19 FDA appropriations with the House-passed FY 20 funding levels and the Senate Committee-passed FY 20 funding levels. The House has claimed that its bill is $184 million more than FY 19, and the Senate has stated its bill is $80 million more than FY 19. Breaking this apart, the House provides $20 million more for food than the Senate, $35 million more for CDER, $10 million more for CBER, $2 million more for CVM, $26 million more for CDRH, $10 million more for Office of the Commissioner, and $3 million more for rent items. The National Center for Toxicological Research is level-funded in both bills. (Note: Because of rounding in the House- and Senate-claimed amounts and rounding in the attached table, the House is $106 million more than the Senate, rather than the $104 million suggested by top-line numbers.)

Editorial note: The Analysis and Commentary section is written by Steven Grossman, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

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