President, Congress Tackle Federal Budget Issues for Fiscal 2013 and 2014

By: Gina Luke, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

All that Congress and the president has touched lately have been a “day late and a dollar short.” The pace at which Congress has tackled the budget and appropriations process this year has been nothing short of exasperating for all who follow these issues.

President Obama signed the fiscal 2013 spending package (H.R. 933) into law on March 26, which provides funding for federal programs through Sept. 30. The funding is mostly at reduced levels compared to fiscal 2012 levels, minus the across-the-board cuts to federal programs of 5.13 percent and a rescission of 2.513 percent.

The final fiscal 2013 funding levels provided in the agriculture appropriations bill include the following funding levels for programs of priority to AVMA:

  • $4,436,145 for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program;
  • $756,214,250 for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service;
  • $974,870 for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank;
  • $5,545,645 for the Food and Agro-Defense Initiative, which provides a baseline for the National Animal Health Lab Network;
  • $275,500,000 for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative; and
  • $1,019,000,000 for the Agricultural Research Service.

Congress did not consider a provision that would have restricted the participation of federal employees in conferences.  This is of particular concern to the AVMA which encourages federally employed veterinarians to attend its meetings. However, another bill has been introduced, H.R. 933, which includes language prohibiting the funding of more than 50 federal employees to attend international conferences, unless their attendance is “important to the national interest.”

President Submits Fiscal 2014 Budget Proposal
President Obama released his $3.77 trillion fiscal 2014 budget proposal on April 10, roughly nine weeks after it was due to Congress. Despite the fact that many people in Congress have declared it “dead on arrival,” the president’s budget is a signal to Congress of his priorities for the year and serves a valuable purpose when it arrives on Capitol Hill because it offers a budget blueprint for stakeholder groups, including AVMA, to use to support their argument for maintaining or increasing funding for their particular programs.

The president has proposed the following funding levels for programs that are important to veterinary medicine:

  • $4,790,000 for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program;
  • $4,000,000 for the Animal Health and Disease Research;
  • $797,600,000 for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service;
  • $0 for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank;
  • $6,000,000 for the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative, which provides baseline for the National Animal Health Lab Network;
  • $383,376,000 for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative;
  • $1,124,003,000 for the Agricultural Research Service;
  • $893,000 for the Horse Protection Act;
  • $1,008,000,000 for the Food Safety and Inspection Service;
  • $714,000,000 for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility;
  • $29,300,000 for Plum Island Animal Disease Center;
  • $4,700,000,000 for the Food and Drug Administration, which includes the Center for Veterinary Medicine; and
  • $31,300,000,000 for the National Institute of Health.

AVMA’s Agriculture Funding Priorities for Fiscal 2014
Each fiscal year, AVMA must compete for “discretionary” dollars in Congress’ annual appropriations process. Discretionary spending is the part of the federal budget that is negotiated between the president and Congress each year and it includes everything that is not in the mandatory budget (meaning, programs that are required by law to provide certain benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare). AVMA actively lobbies for funding for its programs as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget.

For fiscal 2014, AVMA is urging Congress to fund the following programs at these levels:

  • $4,790,000 for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program;
  • $825,000,000 for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service;
  • $1,000,000 for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank to continue its traditional work, and an additional $250,000 to begin establishing a network of global drug approval data in a format compatible with the U.S. drug database;
  • $9,980,000 for the Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative, which provides baseline for the National Animal Health Lab Network;
  • $383,376,000 for Agriculture and Food Research Initiative; and
  • $1,124,003,000 for the Agricultural Research Service.

For more information on these appropriations requests, visit AVMA’s website.

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