Date: April 18, 2013
Re: Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Hearing – “FDA FY14 Budget Request”
On Thursday, April 18, 2013, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies held a hearing to go over the FDA’s FY14 budget request. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the FDA, served as the witness at the one panel hearing.
Chairman Pryor, Ranking Member Blunt, Senator Cochran and Senator Tester were the only Subcommittee members who attended and asked questions during the hearing. During questioning, Chairman Pryor asked Commissioner Hamburg to go over sequestration’s effect on inspections and the agency as a whole. Hamburg said the sequester is still of significant concern. Under sequestration, the agency will lose $209 million total – $126 million in budget authority and $83 in user fees. She stated the FDA is still looking at ways to reduce their costs without taking money from programs and mentioned they have already decreased travel and training program expenses. According to Hamburg, because the agency had not reached its FTE cap before the sequester, they will not have to furlough any employees, however, they are unable to make new hires. Pryor continued by asking what potential impact the reduction in user fees will have on FDA’s relationship with industry in future negotiations. Hamburg voiced some concern for future negotiations, mainly how a reduction in user fees would slow the ability to build up some of the programs agreed upon by the agency and industry.
Ranking Member Blunt brought up the complex nature of this year’s budget cycle and that of FDA in particular. The FDA budget, which was created prior to the passage of the most recent long term continuing resolution, requests some monies Blunt claims were already passed under the CR and signaled out the facilities budget. Hamburg noted that some of those facility requests passed in the CR were not just for one time operations and the agency would need some continuing funding for that project as a whole. Blunt also asked if the agency would like to see user fees protected from future sequestration cuts. Hamburg expressed an eagerness to see user fees protected for their intended use.
Later in the hearing, while discussing memorandums of understanding the FDA have with some academic institutions, Hamburg was pleased to announce they are about to graduate their first class of those trained specifically in regulatory science training programs.
Additional questions in the hearing were focused on menu labeling, the Food Safety Modernization Act, drug compounding pharmacy regulation, and genetically modified food labeling.