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Advocacy at a Glance

February 28, 2020

Topline: The FY 21 appropriations process is moving into full swing, just as Congress must consider supplemental funding for the coronavirus. Our Hill Day is March 18. Please join us. This week’s Analysis and Commentary takes a further look at the Alliance’s FY 21 funding “ask” and explores the Congressional calendar and likely schedule for moving appropriations bills.

Coronavirus Supplemental Likely to Be Considered Quickly. The coronavirus outbreak has already increased FDA’s workload in diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines and, among other things, also affects its role in preventing drug and medical device shortages and inspecting foreign facilities (new supply chain update here, and more broadly here). The President’s request for supplemental funding of $1.8 billion (letter to Congress) has two parts: $1.25 billion in new funding to go into the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund at HHS; and authority for the Secretary of HHS to transfer $535 million in emergency Ebola funding to wherever monies are needed. On Capitol Hill, much larger numbers are being discussed and the timing and size of a supplemental is unclear. There appears to be widespread recognition that FDA will need additional resources to carry out its existing responsibilities while providing urgent response to the coronavirus.

FY 21 Appropriations Process Starts With Member Requests. Now that the President’s FY 21 Budget Request has been released, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are moving into action. The first step is to solicit “requests” from other Members on programs and funding levels they would like the Ag/FDA appropriations subcommittees to consider. In turn, those Members solicit suggestions from their home state and various national organizations. The Alliance will be participating fully and telling offices that FDA needs $120 million dollars above the FY 20 funding level. If your organization would like to support FDA in this way, please contact Roger.

Tentative Schedule for House Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee: Member Day on March 3 (Representatives can testify); FDA testimony (Dr. Hahn) to be announced (TBA). Public testimony in the House TBA. Reportedly, Subcommittee mark-up will be on April 21 and full committee mark-up on April 29. Leadership plans to bring all appropriations bills to the floor by the end of June.

Tentative Schedule for Senate Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee: FDA testimony (Dr. Hahn) TBA; Public testimony due April 6. For Alliance members interested in submitting public testimony in support of FDA, the subcommittee’s instructions are here. Dates for subcommittee and full committee mark-ups have not been announced. Given the Senate schedule, it is hard to imagine any appropriations subcommittee mark-ups to begin any earlier than April 21. May and June are more likely.

It All Leads Up to Alliance Hill Day: Join Us on March 18. The Alliance’s most important member activity is our annual Hill Day, which will be on Wednesday, March 18. This is the day to let Congress know why your organization supports a strong, well-funded FDA and, also, promote understanding of FDA’s far-reaching mission and responsibilities. Unlike other Alliance events that are restricted to members, we welcome all FDA advocates to join us for Hill Day. Please mark your calendars and let Reed know if you will be available all day or only in the morning or afternoon. For more information about the Alliance, its activities, or how to join, contact Steven. We need a big and enthusiastic turn-out on March 18.

Alliance Co-Signs Letter Seeking Timely Completion of FY 21 Appropriations and Increased Support for Federal Science Agencies.  The Alliance will be signing on to a letter organized by Alliance member, Research!America (R!A). The letter, directed to House and Senate appropriators, urges them to: (1) prioritize timely completion of the FY 21 appropriations process before FY 20 funding ends on September 30 this year; and (2) boost science agency investment significantly. Although no agency is specifically mentioned in the letter, R!A has consistently included FDA in its list of scientific agencies that need additional funding. The text of the letter is here, with  information about how to sign on to the letter here. For more information, e-mail Eleanor Dehoney at R!A. Deadline is COB March 4.

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