In advance of next week's annual Senate hearing on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) budget, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today met with FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg to discuss the agency's priorities this year. Kohl is the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over funding for the FDA, and has worked to increase the FDA's budget to bolster their efforts to keep the food supply safe. Kohl pushed the FDA to increase the number of food safety inspectors domestically and abroad, and to develop new, regional rapid response teams across the country to identify and isolate contaminated produce at its source. Dr. Hamburg is a principal member of the President's Food Safety Working Group, the interagency group tasked with overhauling the food safety system.
Kohl has also worked closely with the FDA in their efforts to coordinate vaccine development and production, move more affordable generic drugs to the market sooner, and monitor the safety and effectiveness of medical devices.
"The FDA plays a pivotal role in protecting Americans' health and safety, overseeing countless consumer goods that we use every day. As we begin the work of building a responsible budget for the coming year, our goal is to ensure that FDA can continue to make gains in its work to keep the food and drug supply safe in an environment of fiscal austerity in which we all need to do more with less," Kohl said.
In FY2008, Kohl worked to provide an increase of $90 million over the Bush Administration's request for the FDA, much of it directed to food safety. For FY2009, one of Kohl's priorities was to increase funding for the FDA by nearly $325 million over the previous year. The FY2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill included a $346 million increase for FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Dr. Hamburg will participate in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FDA's budget next Tuesday, March 9th, at 10:00 am in SD-192.