What's Ahead on the Hill
In this regular feature on Breakthroughs, Ashley Bennett, senior policy associate at the GHTC, provides an update on what’s currently happening with global health in Congress and an outlook for future legislative activity.
The government continues to operate under the continuing resolution (CR) that cut 1.5% across the board to all government programs. At the same time, the Senate is starting the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 appropriations process, debating several “minibus” bills that combine two or more appropriations accounts. With these minibus bills, the Senate aims to complete work on appropriations as close as possible to the Nov. 18 CR expiration date. Here are some details on two minibus bills that would fund the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID):
- The Senate recently considered a minibus bill that would fund the FDA, in addition to several other programs. The Senate debated this minibus bill last week, but could not agree to the funding levels before the Senate went into recess. This week, when the Senate is back in session, it will likely approve this measure.
- Also this week, the Senate will likely consider another minibus that combines State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) with several other programs, including Energy. The SFOPS account provides funding to USAID. This package could be debated as early as Tuesday, Nov. 1, and amendments will be allowed during debate. The GHTC has heard that if it looks like there won’t be enough votes to approve the package by the end of this week, the bill will be pulled from the floor and the Senate will try again at a later date.
- As mentioned in the last What’s Ahead on the Hill, the Senate SFOPs funding levels for FY 2012 are roughly $5 billion higher than the House funding levels, but still about $3 billion below FY 2011 levels overall. As the SFOPs account is combined with the often controversial Energy account, the amount of amendments could lead to a lengthy debate.
After the State and Foreign Operations minibus is debated, additional funding packages will still be needed to complete work on the Senate side for all of the appropriations accounts. Meanwhile on the House side, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has suggested that he may consider adding accounts to the FDA minibus when it is approved by the Senate and moves to the House for negotiations. It is unclear at this point if this will actually be the case.
You can find information on the FDA bill here.