A proposal by conservative House Republicans to cut and freeze non-defense discretionary spending from 2012 to 2021 would have a major impact on food safety oversight, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The House Republican Study Committee (RSC), made up of 165 House Republicans, unveiled their plan to cut spending: across the board cuts of over 40 percent in every sector of the U.S. government–save for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Defense Department. Non-security discretionary spending accounts for about 13 percent of the federal budget.
House Speaker John Boehner’s recently released plan also proposes across the board cuts in “non-security” discretionary spending by $100 billion in fiscal year 2011, which comes out to a 21 percent across the board cut compared with 2010, adjusted for inflation, according to the left-leaning budget think tank.
“Boehner’s proposal would represent the deepest annual cut in funding for these programs in recent U.S. history,” said James Horney, the director of fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “But, the RSC’s longer term plan…would go much, much further. By 2021, it would reduce non-defense appropriations by 42 percent below what the Congressional Budget Office says is needed to maintain last year’s funding level, adjusted only for inflation.”
According to the think tank, that would mean a 42 percent cut for a broad range of government services and programs–including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“The House majority, of course, could decide to meet its overall target for non-defense discretionary spending while protecting one or more of the programs and services listed above,” explained Horney, on the organization’s blog. “But, a cut of less than 42 percent in, say, education or environmental protection would necessitate even more draconian cuts in, say, food safety and border security.”
The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, an advocacy group made up of industry and consumer groups, as well as a long list of former FDA commissioners and Secretaries of Health, says it will fight to protect the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from budget cuts.
“The Alliance is aware of the economic and budgetary imperative to control federal spending,” said Steve Grossman, the group’s deputy executive director, in an email response to Food Safety News. “Because of decades of funding neglect and rapidly growing responsibilities, the FDA needs to be an exception to the budget-cutting that is likely to occur this year and next.”
“We believe Congress is sympathetic to our viewpoint and that FDA will weather this storm,” added Grossman. “The Alliance is deeply committed to strengthening FDA through increased budget authority (BA) appropriations. We will be campaigning hard this year to accomplish this end.”
A number of other consumer and industry coalitions have indicated they will lobby for increasing FDA’s budget in the coming years–especially to fund the new mandate posed by the recently-enacted food safety law–but key Republicans have questioned whether food safety warrants greater spending.