WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives and Senate took steps last week to keep FDA reform alive in the current legislative session. New, less controversial legislation was unveiled on the House side, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), announced that he will schedule a vote on the Senate FDA reform bill.

Sen. Nancy Kassebaum's S. 1477 is likely to reach the Senate floor during the week of July 22. When it does, it probably will be met with strong opposition from Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), according to Senate staff and members of patient advocacy groups. Kennedy is scheduled this week to address a patient group that strongly opposes FDA reform.

Although a filibuster is unlikely, Kennedy could attempt to cripple the bill by offering numerous time-consuming amendments that might provoke Lott to postpone a vote.

A Congressional Budget Office estimate of the cost of S. 1477 could be both good and bad news for the bill. On the positive side, it was not possible to schedule a Senate vote until the scoring document was released, so a significant bottleneck was cleared.


Also, because the bill does not affect direct spending or receipts, it is not subject to "pay-as-you-go" procedures and lawmakers will not have to designate equivalent spending cuts or revenue sources.