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GOP Proposes Flat Funding For FDA In Fiscal 2024, Ahead Of Mark Up

House appropriators on Wednesday (May 17) unveiled a draft fiscal 2024 spending bill for FDA with essentially flat discretionary funding that could stifle a number of FDA priorities and hinder pay increases for agency employees and that if signed into law would lead to “explosive” funding discussions in fiscal 2025 because it relies on one-time recissions and clawbacks of unspent pandemic money, according to an FDA funding advocate.The bill would give the agency a total of $6.6 billion in fiscal 2024, with about $3.1 billion coming from an increase in user fee funding and $3.5 billion in budget authority.The House Appropriations FDA-agriculture subcommittee will mark up the bill Thursday (May 18).The proposed $6.6 billion is less than the $7.2 billion requested by the Biden administration. FDA’s budget request, unveiled in March, specifically asked for about $4 billion in discretionary funding, a 10% increase over fiscal 2023 levels, which included $105 million to give employees pay increases.But Republicans on the House Appropriations FDA-agriculture subcommittee are instead proposing about $3.5 billion in discretionary funding, which is level with fiscal 2023 levels. The $3.1 billion in user fees is about $42 million more than what was provided in fiscal 2023.Without the requested increase, FDA will have to find the $105 million from existing programs, meaning that the GOP’s draft bill is not truly a flat-funded budget proposal, Steven Grossman, executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, said during a Research!America webinar on Wednesday.There’s also no money to carry out the goals of the president’s budget request, which was especially focused on food safety, implementing the new cosmetics safety program and Cancer Moonshot.“There is a lot of good stuff in [the president’s budget] that reflects the fact that FDA’s mission and responsibilities are not stagnant; they grow each year — science becomes more complex, there are new laws, etc. So, one thing [the appropriations bill] doesn’t include is money for the newly stated priorities,” Grossman said.Though the total funding level doesn’t look “so bad” at the moment, it’s actually a ticking time bomb that could lead to fiery discussions when it comes time for fiscal 2025 levels next year, Grossman added.“The committee has allotted itself about the same $24 billion it had for ag-FDA programs last year. However, it’s $16 to $18 billion — I don’t have the numbers exactly right yet — in traditional budget authority . . . and $7 or $8 billion that comes from recissions and clawbacks of unspent pandemic money. So that means that if this were to become law as is, those monies you can only spend once and we’d be looking at a true base ag-FDA that would be about one-third less than what it is now,” Grossman explained.House Appropriations Committee ranking Democrat Rosa DeLauro (CT) blasted the GOP draft bill saying it’s “a sham proposal” that’s “completely detached from reality.”“[M]ost of these rescissions may not be available by next year. It is also a non-starter within the Republican conference. This bill exemplifies Republican values: taking food out of the mouths of hungry people, creating hurdles for women to access medication, raising energy costs for rural Americans, and making it harder for small farmers to make ends meet while at the same time tipping the scale in favor of big corporations and protecting big tobacco,” DeLauro said in a press release.DeLauro also took issue with several provisions that would place restrictions on FDA, including by reversing the agency’s recent actions to loosen the prescribing and dispensing restrictions for the mifepristone — one of two drugs used as part of a medication abortion regimen.The draft bill also would prevent the agency from using enforcement discretion to maintain the looser prescribing and dispensing restrictions, which are currently the focus of a lawsuit in which anti-abortion medical provider groups are asking the Fifth Circuit to reinstate restrictions that were in place on the drug before 2016 and to suspend FDA’s 2019 approval of generic mifepristone.The GOP draft bill also would block FDA from finalizing rules to prohibit menthol in cigarettes and characterizing flavors in cigar,It also would prevent the agency from issuing new population-wide sodium reduction targets until the 2025-2026 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is published.