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Advocacy at a Glance

January 29, 2021

Top-Line: Representatives Bishop and Fortenberry have been formally named as Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Ag/FDA. We expect Senators Merkley and Hoeven will be named Chair and Ranking Member on the Senate side, but assignments have not been formally made. This year’s appropriations process will be different than prior years, a topic that is discussed here in Advocacy at a Glance and in this week’s Analysis and Commentary.

Bishop/Fortenberry to Again Lead House Ag/FDA Appropriations Subcommittee. House assignments have now been finalized. Representative Sanford Bishop of Georgia will continue as Chair and Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska will continue as Ranking Minority Member. Our congratulations to both of them. We look forward to working with them to make the FDA stronger and better resourced to assure that the agency can fulfill its mission and responsibilities.

McConnell/Schumer Power-Sharing Pact Allegedly Finalized. Democratic control of the Senate (50 Democrats plus the Vice President) is sufficiently tenuous that Senate business — apart from confirmation hearings — has largely ground to a halt pending a power-sharing agreement between Senators Schumer and McConnell. A deal seemed more likely after two Democratic Senators indicated that they would not vote to eliminate the filibuster. Still, no actual deal has been released, although there are reports that the agreement is now in final form. As a result, we expect — but it is not yet confirmed — that Senator Merkley will chair the Ag/FDA appropriations subcommittee and Senator Hoeven will be the Ranking Member.

What Will the FY 22 Appropriations Process Look Like? A new administration that needs to create its own budget request. A new Senate majority. The need for spending ceilings that are not prespecified by the Budget Control Act of 2011. In today’s Analysis and Commentary, we take a look at these topics (and others) that will affect the appropriations process in 2021. On behalf of the Alliance and its members, we will be tracking all these twists and turns. Our goal will be to identify situations that might impact on FDA’s mission and resource needs. In those instances, we will work to advocate for solutions that reflect the breadth and depth of FDA’s commitment to the American public. We will keep emphasizing our key message: FDA’s growing responsibilities require a budget that grows.

Will Earmarks Return to the Appropriations Process? What Is Budget Reconciliation? Congressional allocation of funds for specific local projects was part of the appropriations process from the nation’s founding until about a decade ago. Restoring earmarks is again a hot topic as Congress organizes for the 2021 session. For those unfamiliar with the process or whose memories are faded, here is a defense of earmarks by a former Congressman and appropriator.

Almost certainly, we will also see the appropriations process impacted by budget reconciliation. With a new Administration and in the midst of a pandemic, it may be a vehicle for a broader set of program changes than the more recent Republican success in using it for overhauling the tax code. The House Budget Committee’s explanation of reconciliation is here.

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