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Advocacy at a Glance

November 11, 2019

Top-Line: A November 21 shutdown now seems unlikely, but Congress will still need to pass a new CR that extends into December. Despite speculation that appropriations and impeachment are on a collision course, that is purely guesswork because no one knows how fast Congress will get to either issue.

Shutdown Averted, Probably; New CR Likely through Mid-December: President Trump has hinted several times that he might not sign a new Continuing Resolution when the current one expires on November 21. That would lead to a government shutdown. The threat has diminished to the point where a shutdown seems quite unlikely. However, the White House Congressional liaison has said,

So long as the continuing resolution does not impede the President’s ability to pursue his policies, the administration is willing to support passage of a continuing resolution with a December date.

That leaves at least a little bit of uncertainty.

Meantime, appropriators are meeting on November 12 in an effort to get FY 20 appropriations back on track. New avenues for compromise may be on the table, depending on what President Trump told Senate Republican appropriators in a meeting on November 7. At a minimum, next week’s meeting should produce agreement on a new CR, which is likely to run through either December 13 or 20. This week’s Analysis and Commentary explores, in a Q&A format, some of the more FDA-relevant aspects of the budget/appropriations situation.

Impeachment and Appropriations: Separate Issues May Overlap in Time. News reports have suggested that the House impeachment proceedings and a possible Senate trial might interfere with completion of FY 20 appropriations. Thus far, both House and Senate leadership view appropriations and impeachment as separate issues that should be traveling on their own schedules. We expect that commitment to hold, but it is hard to guarantee with so much political tumult likely to be ahead. It is possible an impeachment trial and appropriations deals could be aligned in mid-December, but that is based on speculative assumptions about the timing of each.

White House Nominates New Commissioner; Confirmation Hearing in Two Weeks. The President has nominated Dr. Stephen Hahn to be the next FDA commissioner. His bio has been widely circulated in trade publications. His Senate hearing is scheduled for November 20.

Successful Alliance Webinar on FDA Appropriations; More Webinars Ahead. The Alliance hosted a webinar this week on FDA appropriations, featuring Jessica Schulken, former Senate Appropriations Committee staffer, now with the Russell Group (e-mail: jschulken@russellgroupdc.com), and Steven Grossman, the Alliance’s Deputy Executive Director. The PowerPoint deck used for the webinar is here. If you have ideas for future Alliance webinars, please Steven Grossman.

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