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Food Safety Funding Unclear in Budget Deal Cutting

The battle over the federal budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011 continues to unfold in Washington, DC, and the final deal could have a significant impact on the resources available to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for food safety regulation and foodborne illness surveillance. The current short-term spending resolution is set to expire this Friday, April 8th–without a new spending bill, the federal government will face shutdown.

Debate over the series of stop gap funding measures has consumed Congress at several points over the current fiscal year. “Everyone on the Hill is tired of the endless CR process,” said Steven Grossman, president of HPS Group and deputy director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, in a budget update yesterday.

“Those most committed to broad deficit reduction know that the real action will be in the FY 12 budget resolution and appropriations, not the current morass on FY 11 spending,” notes Grossman. “But nobody can get there until FY 11 is resolved, which is proving quite difficult. Arguably the most likely outcome for this week is that Congress will again ‘kick the can down the road,’ hoping that agreements can be reached with a little more time.”

So far, large cuts to federal food safety funding have been avoided, but House Republicans have CDC, FDA, and USDA budgets on their target list for significant spending reductions in the current fiscal year.

According to Grossman, the Alliance for a Stronger FDA has had some success in advocating for “the highest possible appropriations levels” for FDA.

“There has been a lot of interest in our explanation of why FDA is different from other regulatory agencies,” writes Grossman. “While most such agencies are perceived as barriers to investment and job growth in the US economy, we have pointed to the broad and positive economic impact of FDA.”

President Obama is hosting key Congressional leaders at the White House today for a budget meeting, which could prove to be a turning point in closing the gap between Republican and Democrat budget objectives for FY 2011.

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