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More Qs and As About the FY 21 Appropriation Process

February 28, 2020

Q: Why does the Alliance’s “ask” not align with the Administration’s numbers?

A: OMB and the Congressional appropriations committees bundle their FDA numbers differently and the Alliance has always followed the Congressional format. Most years that creates initial inconsistencies that wash out once we are all working from Congressional numbers. For example, the Administration’s headline number includes monies for 21st Century Cures programs. Both Congress and the Alliance account for those funds separately because they come from savings in mandatory programs and are not budget authority (BA).

The Alliance’s Board of Directors met on February 18 and set the Alliance’s FY 21 budget authority (BA) funding “ask” at $120 million above the FY 20 level for such FDA programs. This would bring the total for Salaries and Expenses (S&E) to $3.278 billion. Our numbers exclude Cures funding and otherwise conform to OMB budget tables (see attached Alliance chart), but are not the “headline” numbers in the Administration’s summaries.

Q: What else can Alliance members do to help spread the message that FDA needs additional funding?

A: An immediate action would be to sign up for the Alliance’s March 18 Hill Day. The Hill is always (and rightfully) impressed by the extraordinary diversity and size of support for FDA funding. That message is reinforced if we have a great turn-out for Hill Day and Congressional staff see representatives from all stakeholder communities. To sign up, contact Reed. In addition, many of our Alliance members hold their own Hill days and otherwise widely disseminate their federal priorities. FDA’s increased funding needs should be among your “asks.” To get us involved in your efforts and so we can  provide you supporting materials, please contact Liz.

Q: Is the appropriations process likely to be affected by multiple recesses, party organizational meetings, and the presidential nominating conventions?

A: Yes. Congress spends less time in DC when presidential election years overlap with Congressional campaigning. For example, between April 1 and May 12, the House has votes scheduled on only 8 days, of which only three are full days. While the House has an ambitious schedule to be ready for floor votes in June, this means agency hearings will need to be completed by March 30 in order for subcommittee mark-ups to start on April 21. With weeks off for July 4th and then for the Democratic convention (July 13-16), the House will have only four voting days between June 29 and July 20, of which only two are full days. The Senate has more days in session between now and August, but it also has a slower process for moving legislation and a heavier workload because of judicial nominations, confirmation hearings, and treaties.

Q: Has Congressional leadership revealed their expectations on timing of appropriations bills?

A: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has committed to bringing all 12 appropriations bills to the House floor by the end of June. He thinks he will be waiting for the Senate at that point, so can’t define the rest of the timeline. Reportedly, Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said he is looking for a regular appropriations process this year because the budget ceilings are already set. However, apparently, he expects that other disagreements—on policy and spending priorities—will lead to a continuing resolution that would extend past Election Day.

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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