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House, Senate Continue to Disagree on FDA Appropriations

As the budget process in Washington rolls along, the House and Senate remain at odds over doling out resources that impact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The House on Wednesday released the allocation for discretionary spending for FDA and agriculture programs for fiscal year 2013, which is $19.4 billion below the spending ceiling set by last summer’s Budget Control Act. In total, the House appropriations allocations are  $1 trillion below the BCA limits. The Senate is currently considering an FDA appropriations bill that is expected to be at the limit.

According to Stephen Grossman, the executive director at the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, “there does not appear to be any coordination between the two bodies and there are fundamental disagreements on total spending.

“The Senate’s efforts are based on total appropriations spending of $1.047 trillion, as agreed upon in last summer’s Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA),” explained Grossman on Monday. “In contrast, the House Republican majority has chosen to view the BCA amounts as a ceiling and have passed an FY 13 budget resolution that is $19 billion lower.”

This disagreement could mean there will be fewer discretionary dollars for FDA while many officials, industry groups, and consumer advocates are calling for more resources for the agency, not just for food safety, as the agency implements the Food Safety Modernization Act, but for medical device and drug regulation as well.

Markups for the appropriations bills that will impact FDA will likely be very soon, but as Grossman noted, it is also “the conventional wisdom” that the entire budget process will fall apart before the presidential election.

“When the total budget is allocated to each subcommittee, the difference is sufficient that House and Senate conferees are unlikely to be able to agree on any final bills,” said Grossman. “This is the basis for the assumption that the appropriations process will eventually break down, perhaps in June or July. Then things would wait until after the election.”

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