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Advocacy at a Glance

January 17, 2020

Top-Line: The FY 21 appropriations cycle starts with the President setting out his priorities in the State of the Union on February 4. Budget caps for non-defense programs in FY 21 will create a situation where few non-defense agencies will receive increases. Opportunities for Alliance members to participate are described in the Analysis and Commentary section.

The Lull Before FY 21 Appropriations, But Hardly Quiet in Washington. With FY 20 appropriations for FDA completed (reported here), it is time to start moving forward on the FY 21 process. The first step, the State of the Union (SOTU) on February 4, will incorporate President Trump priorities for FY 21 programs. Our understanding is that OMB plans to follow the usual pattern of releasing the President’s FY 21 budget request on the following Monday, February 10. Subcommittee hearings will probably start soon thereafter, which could be late February or early March.

As we wrote last week: some slippage to these dates might occur for practical or political reasons. The most likely cause would be the impeachment trial of President Trump, which started this week and is likely to run for at least two more weeks (through the end of January). Despite this distraction, Senate and House appropriators have vowed not to let “other business” (such as the trial) delay completion of the FY 21 appropriations process. There is again talk of “regular order” appropriations (described here)  that would result in passage of all 12 appropriations bills before the next fiscal year begins on October 1, 2020. In particular, House Democratic leadership has reiterated its goal of passing all the appropriations bills by the end of June.

Under FY 21 Budget Caps, Little Room for Growth in Non-Defense Funding. This past summer, Congress broke a long-running stalemate by agreeing to budget caps for FY 20 and FY 21. They decided to front-load the increases, making spending decisions (relatively) easier for FY 20 and (quite a bit) harder for FY 21. As a result, the coming appropriations cycle will be extremely tight for all non-defense agencies.

This week, Roll Call explored how rising costs in Veterans’ programs may soak up most of the non-defense budget increase. If so, a number of non-defense agencies are likely to face cuts. For many Members of Congress — Republican and Democrat — this is not a desirable outcome and there are some early expressions of interest in finding a budget work-around or increased budget ceiling to accommodate veterans and still allow some non-defense agency programs to grow.

Alliance Scheduling Opportunities for Our Members to Participate. FDA’s growing responsibilities require a budget that grows. With tight FY 21 spending ceilings for non-defense programs, we are going to need to be even more persuasive. Accordingly, the Alliance is planning a busy year of outreach to deliver our messages to policymakers and media. To complement that, we are also scheduling meetings and briefings to learn more from FDA leadership about their opportunities, challenges, and progress. This is discussed further in this week’s Analysis and Commentary, including specific opportunities for our members to become more involved.

The Alliance Thanks Appropriators Who Championed FDA’s Resources in FY 20 and Urge Their Continuing Support in FY 21. The Alliance thanks the House and Senate Appropriations Committees — Members and staff — for their continued commitment to FDA and its resource needs. We are counting on their support as we enter an FY 21 funding environment that will be more difficult than FY 20. If you haven’t already, please take the time to thank Appropriations Committee leaders for their commitment to FDA funding. (Links to the leaders’ offices are in the first paragraph).

Alliance Members Encouraged to Pay 2020 Dues This Quarter. All Alliance members received 2020 dues invoices in mid-November. More than 40% of our members have already responded. If you have not, we encourage you to pay in the first quarter of 2020, if possible. If you need another copy of the invoice, aren’t sure whether you are an Alliance member, have questions about your dues level, or have questions about the Alliance and its mission, please follow-up with Reed Diskey or with Steven Grossman. If you are not a member, please contact us for information about joining. We can never have enough voices in support of increased FDA appropriations.

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