The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved a $22 million bump in discretionary funding for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for fiscal year 2013, giving the agency $2.54 billion.

senatebill-iphone.jpgOf the increase, $12.5 million is designated specifically for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, according to a summary released by the committee.

“This funding level takes into consideration the federal government’s responsibilities to protect public health and safety, especially in the areas of food, drugs, medical devices and biologics,” read the summary, noting that the bill does not allocate funds for the various fee programs that provide the lion’s share of resources for FDA’s budget.

The Senate bill would give the Food Safety and Inspection Service $1.001 billion for FY 2013. “This includes an increase above the budget request for Federal inspection activities and the full funding requested in the budget for state and international inspection activities,” according to the committee.

The Alliance for a Stronger FDA, a non-profit made up of 200 FDA-regulated industry stakeholders and consumer groups, expressed appreciation for the committee’s decision to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a funding boost for fiscal year 2013. The group called the move a “step in the right direction,” but argued that more resources are needed given the agency’s “vast responsibilities and importance to public health protection.”

“In this year of austerity, we appreciate that the Senate has proposed a small increase for FDA, even while many other agencies have been cut,” said Margaret Anderson, president of the Alliance and executive director of FasterCures. “However, FDA’s growing responsibilities and resource needs are not diminished because federal spending is being reduced. With no other agency as fallback, we believe that FDA’s funding should be further increased to reflect the agency’s vast responsibilities and increased workload. Inadequate funding for the FDA has real and immediate consequences as it jeopardizes the public health.”

The bottom line, according to Diane Dorman, who serves as a vice president at National Organization for Rare Disorders and the Alliance, is that the modest boost is “not enough when the FDA mission is expanding and the agency is providing services and protections that Americans value.”

As Food Safety News reported yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee has allocated fewer resources for FDA and agriculture programs. 

“The levels provided for each of the 12 Appropriations bills will continue to demonstrate how seriously this House takes its charge to rein in extraneous and unnecessary spending, encourage economic competitiveness and job growth, help strengthen the nation’s infrastructure, and ensure a strong national security for the protection of all Americans,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.

The difference between the two chambers will need to be resolved before

any budget measures become law and there is speculation that the process will not be complete until after the November

election, after FY 2013 begins.