House Republicans Thursday released a more detailed picture of the cuts that would be required under their budget proposal for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, which is slated to be considered on the House floor next week. Food and public health regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would face significant spending cuts under the plan.

According to a preliminary summary unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee Thursday, the proposed continuing resolution that would fund the government from March to October calls for more than $74 billion in spending reductions, but all of the itemized cuts in the outline are reductions compared to the president’s fiscal year 2011 request, not the current continuing resolution that is funding the government.

At first glance, it appears the proposal would cut $222 million from FDA, $53 million from FSIS, $755 million from CDC, $336 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)–an agency that is playing a major role in testing Gulf seafood for chemicals in the wake of the oil spill–and $246 million from the Agriculture Research Service, the research arm of USDA.

But the actual cuts require a different comparison. One has to look at the 2010 spending levels, which were essentially continued in the 2011 continuing resolution. For example, according to the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, though the proposal says $222 million would be cut from FDA, it would really be about $74 million less than FY 10 funding.

The Alliance, which is made up of over 180 consumer, industry, and public health groups, responded with concern to the House Appropriations Committee’s announcement of cuts to FDA.
“Our nation needs an effective FDA, which requires continuing increases for an agency that has been chronically underfunded for several decades,” said Nancy Bradish Myers, president of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA and President of Catalyst Healthcare Consulting. “We certainly understand the need to reduce the federal budget, but want to be sure that Congress has a clear picture of how FDA contributes to economic growth and national security, as well as protecting our public health.”
“FDA touches every American multiple times each day through its jurisdiction over drugs, biologics, medical devices, 80% of the food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements and varied consumer products. Altogether, the agency oversees nearly 25% of consumer spending in the United States,” said Margaret Anderson, vice president of the Alliance and executive director of FasterCures. “FDA funding should reflect that the agency’s responsibilities and workload increase each year–through globalization, scientific complexity, and the growth of industry, as well as through new mandates.”
Myers added: “Today’s investment of 2 cents per American per day is small compared to the benefits of a strong FDA and the risks from an underfunded FDA. We look forward to working further with Congress to be sure that the needs of the American people are being met.”

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) says that though the cuts are tough and will impact every congressional district, including his, the GOP remains committed to reining in spending.

“While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt,” said Rogers Wednesday. “We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people.”

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to release a more detailed proposal with itemized cuts in the near future.