By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - Conflicts between the new Congress' desire to help business, and a fierce dedication to budget reduction, as well as an agenda jam-packed with priority items from the "Contract With America," will strictly limit the biotechnology industry's ability to be heard, let alone get legislation enacted in the near future.

The short window of opportunity before campaigning for the next presidential election drowns out all but the most partisan issues - 10 to 12 months, according to Biotechnology Industry Organization President Carl Feldbaum - also limits the scope of legislation the industry can expect Congress to consider.

"The conventional wisdom is that the complexion of the current Congress is going to be much more favorable to industry in general and to biotech in particular. But I am not sure the conventional wisdom is complete," Feldbaum told BioCentury. "It is probably correct but not complete. There are going to be some great pressures on the Republicans to come to grips with deficit reduction and it is conceivable that certain government programs favorable to our industry may be downsized or eliminated."

3-point agenda

One program that the Republicans have discussed eliminating is the Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program