Leahy Statement On FY 18 FDA Budget Request

Thank you, Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Merkley, for holding this hearing today to examine the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal for the Food and Drug Administration.  And thank you, Commissioner Gottlieb, for joining us here today.  I thank the Chair and Ranking Member for giving me the opportunity to offer a few opening remarks.

The Food and Drug Administration has an enormous responsibility to ensure the safety of all Americans.  From our food supply, to pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products, the FDA must have the resources it needs to effectively review these products.  That is why I was so disappointed and alarmed to see the woefully inadequate budget submission from the FDA, which, when excluding the user fee proposal and the mandatory funding through the 21st Century Cures Act, includes a 34 percent cut.  The cuts include $119 million from monitoring food safety and a $55 million reduction in medical product safety.  In my many years in the Senate, I have heard repeatedly that the FDA needs more, not less, resources to adequately fulfill the agency’s mission.  Commissioner Gottlieb, I am curious to hear from you about your justification for how these proposed reductions will not adversely impact Americans’ health and safety, and help bolster consumer confidence in our Nation’s food supply. 

The FDA also has a responsibility to approve new drugs, including generic alternatives.  With the price of prescription drugs on the rise, crippling households and seniors on a fixed income, I will also want to discuss with you ways to help ensure more competition in the pharmaceutical market.  Commissioner Gottlieb, as a physician and someone who has worked in the industry for many years, I am interested in hearing your thoughts. 

Finally, Dr. Gottlieb, I would be remiss if did not make one thing very clear: President Trump’s abysmal budget assumes savings from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and deep cuts to the Medicaid program.  As we talk today about how to increase access to safe, affordable – life-saving – prescription drugs, we cannot forget the millions of Americans that would be left without health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.  Whatever Senate Republicans are crafting behind closed doors, we cannot – and should not – accept any proposal that strips essential and affordable healthcare from millions of Americans.

As I have said in other Appropriations hearings, as Vice Chairman of this Committee, I will work to craft a budget that truly puts Americans first.  I look forward to working with the other members of this Committee, on both sides of the aisle, who I believe also want to fulfill that goal. 

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CONTACT: Jay Tilton – 202-224-2667