President Obama will release his 2012 budget today, a critical part of the heated debate about how to fund the federal government and deal with rising national debt.

As Steve Grossman, president of HPS Group and deputy director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, has said, the president’s announcement is the “opening salvo in what is likely to be a long, hard fight over next year’s appropriation.”

With the Republican-dominated House asking for deep cuts in domestic spending, and with a divided Senate, big compromises are going to be made in the coming months to avoid government shutdown–the current continuing resolution expires March 4, the new CR will only go through October, and lawmakers will need a plan for 2012 by then.

Grossman noted on FDA Matters over the weekend that President Obama’s request for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration–whether he proposes increases in funding, flat funding, or cuts–is critically important in setting up the debate for FDA. The same is true for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As far as FDA is concerned, Grossman says the president’s budget request for FDA usually appears larger because it includes revenue from user fees that are proposed, but not authorized. In many cases, the proposed user fees have been submitted to Congress year after year, although they will never be adopted.

FDA’s budget request is especially critical to watch as the agency moves to implement the broad new food safety law signed by President Obama in January. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that FDA would need approximately $1.4 billion over the next five years in additional funds to put the new law, which includes more frequent inspections, into action.

House Republicans last week released a detailed picture of the cuts they would like to see in the second half of 2011. Food and public health regulatory agencies, including FDA, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and CDC would face significant spending cuts under the plan.


White House photo