Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Margaret Hamburg; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Mr. Norris Cochran; and FDA's Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Jay Tyler testified before the Subcommittee.
"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is facing many challenges such as drug safety at compounding pharmacies, drug shortages and protecting our nation's food supply from foodborne illnesses," said Aderholt. "However, instead of submitting a proposal with solutions to address these important challenges, the Administration is again focusing on using sequestration scare tactics as license to submit another budget request two months late."
"In February, the White House announced sequestration could mean 2,100 fewer FDA food inspections at both domestic and foreign food manufacturing and processing facilities. Meanwhile, the Commissioner has made statements that the number was just an estimate, the effects of sequestration would not be felt for a while and the FDA would not have to furlough workers. We are now heading into the third month of sequestration, and according to the White House our nation's food supply is a lot less safe. What the Agency fails to acknowledge is that the FDA's own testimony states that they are on track to complete a record number of inspections this year, and that Congress has continued to provide increases to FDA for food safety over the past three years when nearly all other agencies across the federal government have had to drastically tighten their belts. Once again this Subcommittee is receiving conflicting information from the Administration," continued Aderholt.
"Further, this year's budget proposal is nearly identical to last year's budget and includes the continuation of millions in taxpayer dollars for a number of programs FDA previously described as one-time requests. The numbers in this budget request and the rhetoric surrounding it just do not add up. I do appreciate Dr. Hamburg and her colleagues' testimony here today, however, it is disappointing that this Subcommittee has been presented with such mixed messages when it comes to the agency's needs and priorities. With today's challenging budgetary environment, now more than ever, status quo spending should not be FDA's goal," concluded Aderholt.
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee's Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission.