Earlier this week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved a five-year reauthorization of FDA user fees. Previously the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee did the same on a 21 – 2 vote. NTEU has been watching this issue very closely. If these user fees are not reauthorized by October 1, 2017, FDA would not have the authority to collect the fees and would be unable to pay employees doing work funded by these fees. Since FDA is required to give two months’ notice before a reduction in force (RIF), NTEU asked Congress to have this legislation finalized before the end of July. NTEU does not want FDA employees receiving this notice even if the user fee legislation is passed before October 1. It will upset them and harm morale at FDA.
I am disappointed that the Administration has come late to the game with proposals vastly differently to what has already been widely agreed to in a bipartisan manner on Capitol Hill and with the support of both industry and non-profit health and consumer groups. The letter from HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) makes clear the view of Congress.
Also troubling is that the Trump Administration’s budget proposal assumes enactment of the user fee proposal coupled with a reduction in appropriations of $1 billion. If Congress does not enact the Administration’s proposal for user fees dramatically above the currently negotiated levels, then the President’s request has the net effect of proposing a 37% cut in the agency’s funding. NTEU is asking the Administration to correct this flaw when they issue their full budget proposal later this month.
The FDA serves in an essential role protecting the health and safety of American consumers. For the Administration to reissue their unrealistic proposal from the “skinny budget” is simply reckless and harmful to the health and well-being of American consumers. NTEU will continue to be a voice for FDA employees as this process moves forward.