Senate gives FDA $50 million budget boost, but bill not final

Senate gives FDA $50 million budget boost, but bill not final

While the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a budget increase for FDA in fiscal year 2012, the House passed a budget cut. It's unclear when, if at all, the two bills will reconcile.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a bill to increase the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's fiscal year 2012 budget by $50 million, bringing the agency's total budget to $2.497 billion. The move contrasts a previously passed House of Representatives bill, which aimed to cut FDA funding to $285 million below the 2011 fiscal year level.

With government spending cuts sweeping across the board, the FDA was the only non-security agency to enjoy a funding increase from fiscal year 2011 levels. In the bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's budget decreased $138 million, lowering its total budget to $19.7 billion for fiscal year 2012. Meanwhile, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is set to receive the same amount as last year: $1.007 billion to monitor the U.S. meat supply.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition has been following the agriculture bills as they make their way through the House and Senate. CRN is generally pleased with the $50 million increase, but emphasizes that the bill is not final, said Mike Greene, CRN's vice president of government relations.

"It's unclear when the Senate's bill will pass," Greene said. "The Senate and House need to reconcile their numbers." CRN has worked with the Alliance for a Stronger FDA to educate Congress about the importance of adequate FDA funding. CRN is one of 180 members of the Alliance, an independent, not-for-profit corporation based in Maryland that aims to ensure the FDA has sufficient resources to protect patients and consumers.

The Alliance reports that, if the bill passes, the $50 million would go toward implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act by the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Because dietary supplements are regulated as a category of food, the money would directly impact industry in the food-safety arena, Greene said.

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