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Advocacy at a Glance

August 1, 2020

Top-Line: The House should complete — by later today — action on 10 of the 12 appropriations bills, including Ag/FDA. The next step will be for the Senate to start moving their own bills, but it seems likely that we will have to wait until after Election Day for final action. A Continuing Resolution will be needed to fund the government starting October 1. This week’s Analysis and Commentary looks at the history of the Alliance and its accomplishments.

Reminder to Media: The Alliance’s Friday Updates (including the sections on Advocacy at a Glance and Analysis and Commentary) are on-the-record. Further, we are always available to both our members and media to answer additional questions.

House Will Pause Once It Has Completed 10 of 12 Appropriations Bills. The House finished its consideration of Ag/FDA appropriations on July 24 as part of H.R. 7608, a four-bill minibus that also includes State-Foreign Operations; Interior-Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The House started consideration this week of a six-bill minibus, H.R. 7617 and it should pass on July 31.  At that point, the House will have moved 10 of the 12 appropriations bills. They will be waiting for the Senate to release drafts and act upon their own version of the 10 bills. Senate action will not come until September at the earliest.

The House has not moved forward on the committee-passed Homeland Security and the Legislative Branch funding bills. Although no reason has been given publicly, it is possible that the Legislative Branch funding bill is being delayed so proponents and opponents of a Congressional pay raise can slug it out in the post-election session.  Likewise, while no reason has been given publicly, Homeland Security is likely being held up because of immigration and/or border wall funding issues. In both cases we are speculating, but if we are correct, the bills will not come up until after the election.

The Senate and FDA Appropriations: No Movement, No Surprise.  A number of disagreements — substantive, procedural, and political — have kept Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy from releasing bills and scheduling mark-ups.

Prospects for Senate action were extensively and accurately discussed in the July 17 Analysis and Commentary (here).

Continuing Resolution Most Likely Source of FDA Funding at the Beginning of FY 21. We expect Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) that extends funding from October 1 (the start of the new fiscal year) until either November 20, December 11, or December 18.  The consequences of a CR upon FDA are severe, even though they may be temporary, as we previously discussed here.

It is hard to gauge whether the CR will be further extended until February or March of next year. The key consideration is who wins the elections (President, Senate, and House). The winners may see it in their interest to wrap up before the end of this year or prefer to wait until after the New Year. A wild card in all this is the potential that “winners” will not be resolved before the first CR is set to expire.

DOD and FDA Work Together Extensively. The Alliance believes that: no federal agency’s mission and responsibilities are more affected by changes in science, technology, innovation, and social trends than the FDA (discussed here). For that reason, the Alliance often points to areas of FDA’s responsibilities that are important, but less well-known. This week’s example is the extensive working relationship between the DOD and FDA to serve the unique needs of military personnel.

Assignments may take soldiers to serve in areas subject to extreme environmental conditions, including potential exposure to rare infectious diseases. Soldiers may also experience significant battlefield injury and trauma, followed by a need for a broad range of clinical and rehabilitative services. The most recent agreement between the agencies (text and description) came about as a result of DOD seeking to have an emergency use authorization for a type of freeze-dried plasma that is suitable for battlefield use.

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