WASHINGTON - The Clinton administration has asked Congress to cut funding for the FDA by about 8 percent in the 1998 fiscal year beginning next October, but hopes to provide the agency with slightly more funds than it received in 1997 through the imposition of new user fees.

The proposal reflects the administration's support for the role FDA plays in supporting high-profile political causes. The budget documents highlight the administration's request for large increases in funding for anti-tobacco activities at the agency - but biotech industry officials and public health advocates said the spending priorities do not indicate a high level of concern for improving the FDA's day-to-day operations,