The U.S. House of Representatives voted tonight to fund the FDA until the federal shutdown ends or until Dec. 15, whichever comes first.
The lower chamber approved on a 235-162 vote a joint resolution by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) that restores funding to the level established by sequestration, which is about $200 million less than originally authorized.
The measure is unlikely to pass muster in the Senate, where majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to shoot down any proposed stop-gap funding legislation.
The vote capped the 7th day of the federal shutdown, begun Oct. 1 when the Senate nixed a continuing resolution after the House added a pair of provisions that would have repealed the medical device tax and delayed the implementation of Obamacare’s insurance exchanges by a year.
Aderholt, who is chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said FDA funding bill would also allow the watchdog agency to collect the user fees that industry pays to have its medical device and drugs reviewed.
"It is now time for this body to continue funding 1 more critical component of our public health infrastructure," Aderholt said. "We need the entire agency back at work."
"The health of our people should not be jeopardized," added Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) "This bill moves us a step closer to the finish line, but we’ve got to remember that we can get there much faster if we find a way to fund the federal government. This will be the 9th bill the House has sent to the Senate to re-open the federal government. Unfortunately the Senate won’t even consider these bills, so the government is still shut down."
"We should not be debating a bill that’s going nowhere. We should be debating a bill that will end this shutdown," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) countered. "Call a vote right now and let’s see what happens. We say to [House speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)], let democracy prevail. Bring the Senate [continuing resolution] up for a vote now."
Democrats also said that the FDA funding bill is a stopgap measure that doesn’t go far enough to ensure the public health because it fails to fund other critical agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
"I cannot support this piecemeal, ‘specialty of the day,’" Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) said. "If this House voted for [the continuing resolution], this whole thing, this charade of shutting down government, would end overnight."
"It’s a gimmick and its also poor policy. If they love the FDA so much, fund it where it should be funded, not with $200 million less," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said.