The administration has released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. At the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the President’s request calls for an $871 million cut in FDA’s appropriation, and the replacement of those dollars with a proposed doubling of industry user fees. Leading members of Congress have already told the President that they are far along with the reauthorization legislation for FDA users and will not act on his proposed user fee increases this year. Should Congress, as expected, not give the President his requested user fee increases but not make up the shortfall in appropriated dollars, the impact on FDA would be devastating. FDA not only has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the safety of millions of products that represent about 20% of American consumer spending, but also has a rapidly expanding role in food and drug safety as well as innovative medical product development. To ensure that the agency can secure and retain the highly trained workforce of scientists and other professionals required to carry out this mandate, more than 80% of the FDA’s budget is dedicated to its personnel needs.
The budget request also cuts other bureaus of Health and Human Services. The Health Resources & Services Administration has a request of $9.9 billion, which is $460 million below its level of FY17 funding. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services proposed budget is $3.9 billion, $399 million below FY17. The administration also wants to eliminate two programs under the Administration on Children and Families — the Social Services Block Grant ($16.7 billion over 10 years) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund ($6 billion over 10 years).
For the NTEU-represented Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the proposed funding would include a 31% cut, the largest of any major federal agency. EPA would receive $5.7 billion in FY 2018 under the President’s request — down $2.6 billion from current funding levels.
Such a cut would require reducing staffing levels by over 3,200 positions, something that would be impossible to do through attrition and therefore certainly would require RIFs, layoffs, and furloughs.
At the NTEU-represented Department of Energy (DOE), a funding reduction of $1.7 billion is being proposed, which translates into a 5.6% cut. However, the proposal moves funds among various DOE programs, mostly in favor of the National Nuclear Security Administration and to the detriment of other DOE programs resulting in an 18% cut for non-nuclear programs. This could also result in RIFs and furloughs at some bureaus of DOE.
NTEU will be continuing efforts on Capitol Hill and with citizen organizations that understand the important work done by NTEU members at FDA, HHS, EPA, and DOE to oppose these unwarranted budget cuts.