Update on Congressional Consideration of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA)

As reported previously, on March 20, 2017, H.R. 1029, the “Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017” (PRIA 4), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for consideration.  On May 11, 2017, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing seeking comments from EPA, industry and other stakeholders on the proposed legislation.  On June 30, 2017, the committee approved the legislation for floor consideration without objection.  Due to various issues in the Senate, however, the bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote or debate.

Given the few legislative days remaining in September and the number of priority issues demanding more immediate Congressional attention, it appears unlikely that lawmakers will pass a reauthorization measure before current PRIA expires at the end of this month.  Moreover, the measure adopted by the Senate committee contains several modifications to the House passed bill.  Among these, the Senate committee bill establishes a three-year extension of PRIA from the current sunset date of September 30, 2017 to September 30, 2020.  In contrast, the House measure provides for a six-year authorization of the statute ending on September 30, 2023.  In other changes, the registration action fees for certain product categories adopted in the Senate committee bill differ in some cases from those approved by the full House.  As such, if the full Senate were to pass the committee bill as currently drafted, these differences would have to be reconciled in a House-Senate conference committee where it is possible that further changes to the measure could be made.  The conferenced bill would then need to be passed by each chamber before the President could sign it into law.  This process could take several weeks or more to complete.

 

It is important to note that even if a reauthorization measure is not enacted into law by September 30th, EPA’s authority to collect registration service fees will not end abruptly on that date.  The recent bi-partisan budget agreement to keep the federal government operating for three months beyond September 30th (the end of the federal fiscal year) provides EPA the authority to collect fees at current levels through the end of 2017.  Moreover, if Congress and the Administration fail to enact PRIA by the end of the year, the current statute provides a gradual phase down of EPA’s authority to collect fees with a 40% reduction in fees during FY 2018 and a 70% reduction during FY 2019.  Once a reauthorization measure is enacted into law, PRIA fee collections will resume as if the legislation had been passed in a timely manner.  In summary, while PRIA may technically end on September 30th, there should be no impact on the funding of OPP pesticide review activities until January 2018 at which time it is expected that the statute will have been reauthorized.

CPDA is now focusing its efforts on securing the enactment of adequate appropriations in support of pesticide review activities conducted by the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) under PRIA.  Competition for limited appropriated funds proposed under the President’s budget Agency-wide will be fierce – especially given the monumental task faced by the Agency in conducting the review of some 10,000 chemicals as mandated under the set of reforms enacted to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Moreover, on September 14, 2017 the House passed a $1.2 trillion spending package for FY 2018 that begins October 1st.  The omnibus spending bill reduces EPA’s budget by $534 million compared to last year’s enacted level. In the face of these challenges surrounding EPA appropriations for the coming federal fiscal year, CPDA is calling upon its member companies to assist our efforts as we advocate for full funding of OPP.  Specifically, CPDA is encouraging its member company representatives to write to House appropriators urging them to fully fund OPP/PRIA in the FY 2018 budget.  Concurrently, CPDA is meeting with Members of Congress seeking their support of full funding of OPP pesticide review activities.  CPDA is committed to working in support of full funding of EPA’s pesticide program and the reauthorization of PRIA legislation and will keep its members informed of further developments as they occur.  Should you have any questions, please contact CPDA Director of Legislative Affairs Don Davis at ddavis@cpda.com.

AUTHOR

Diane Schute

All stories by: Diane Schute