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FDA and Congress: FY 11 Deficit Reduction Could Cut Deep

Two upcoming events this week will set the tone for FDA appropriations for the next two years. On Monday, the President will release his request for FY 12 funding. On Tuesday, the House will begin consideration of HR 1, which provides continuing appropriations for the remainder of FY 11 (through September 30, 2011).

This column analyzes the House situation for FY 11; a separate column will preview the President’s FY 12 request. These are based on analysis I have done for the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, which is the leading voice for increased appropriations for FDA. I urge you to e-mail me at sgrossman@strengthenfda.org for more information about joining.

The current FY 11 Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on March 4. Until then, almost the entire federal government (including FDA) will be funded at the FY 10 enacted level. For FDA that has meant a budget of $2.35 billion.

The new House Republican majority feels committed to immediate passage of sweeping budgetary cutbacks. Compromises were proposed in the House this past week that would have made a substantial cut in FY 11, but not the $100 billion in deficit reduction that many new Representatives felt was promised.  This approach was rejected.

On Thursday and Friday, the House appropriations committees had to find an additional $20+ billion in cuts to reach the target of $100 billion below the President’s FY 11 budget request. In the first (compromise) round, FDA was slated to receive $2.284 billion. This is $220 million below the President FY 11 request and $62 million below the FY 10 enacted level.

The agency was hit harder in the second round of much deeper cuts. The bill that will be debated on the House floor next week would fund FDA at $2.104 billion. This is $400 million below the President’s request level and $242 million below the FY 10 enacted level.

This represents about a 10% decrease in available agency funding in the current fiscal year. Since the cuts would all have to be absorbed in the second half of the fiscal year, the actual cut (in percentage terms) is likely to be larger. The exact magnitude depends on how much money FDA held back (from spending in the first half of the year) as a hedge against cuts later in the year.

Here is the timeframe and process for consideration of HR 1:

·        Next Tuesday (2/15) – floor debate under an open rule (an open rule allows many amendments to be offered). Expect the House to be confronted with proposals that would impose even greater cuts compared to the version of HR 1 that will come to the floor.


·        By next Friday (2/19) – House expects to have passed HR 1


·        House and Senate both recess on 2/19 and return on 2/28


·        When it returns, the Senate has less than five days to act on the CR and reach a compromise by March 4 with the House   

Most commentators expect several short-term CR extensions before the House/Senate finally agree in late March on serious cuts that are, nonetheless, much less than the House levels. This assumes that 53 Senate Democrats will agree upon lesser cuts and outvote the 47 Senate Republicans.

FDA Matters points out that the Senate is rarely that simple. Senate Majority Leader Reid has said he will fight the House cuts. However, he may not have 53 votes to do so, given the views of several fiscally-conservative Democrats up for re-election in 2012.

In contrast, Senate Minority Leader McConnell has said he has 47 Republican votes for whatever FY 11 CR passes the House. While that may not be true, it leaves open the possibility that he would need only a few Democrats to control the Senate with regard to the FY 11 CR.


For purposes of disclosure: I am one of the founders and Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. It is the only multi-stakeholder group devoted to education and advocacy to increase the appropriated resources available to FDA. Members include patient and consumer groups, professional societies, research advocacy groups, associations, companies, consultants and individuals. For more information about the Alliance, go to www.StrengthenFDA.org or write to me at sgrossman@StrengthenFDA.org.


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