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Entries in Food Safety (3)

Tuesday
Dec212010

Food Safety Passes House, Heading to White House

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – After miraculously coming back to life in the Senate, the House of Representatives has passed the Food Safety Bill for the third time this Congress.

The bill would give the federal government far-reaching authority to set and enforce standards for farmers and food producers.

After the legislation was passed in the House over a year ago, and was stalled for months in the Senate, the House again passed the measure a few weeks ago to include a long-term continuing resolution.

The Senate never brought that version to the floor, instead passing a stand-alone food-safety measure three weeks ago. Concern arose in the House, however, that the Senate's version violated a constitutional provision that requires new taxes to originate in the House.

Recent Senate and House action has resolved disputes over the bill, which will now head to the White House where President Obama has signaled he will sign the legislation into law. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec202010

Food Safety Bill Passes Senate in Unexpected Last-Minute Move

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an unexpected move, the Senate Sunday passed a sweeping food safety bill by unanimous consent, sending the bill back for a vote in the House before it can move on to President Obama’s desk.

The surprising development is only the latest bizarre twist for the measure.  Just a few days ago the food safety bill was seen as dead on Capitol Hill, but the Senate modified it to resolve a revenue technicality and managed to pass it.  The modification means it has to return to the House.  The revenue issue is key in the long bizarre story of the bill.

In July 2009, the House first passed the bill, aiming to prevent massive outbreaks of tainted food by giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to order mandatory recalls and require more frequent inspections of high-risk food processing plants.  But the bill then languished in the Senate for 15 months in the face of opposition from Republicans who objected to it adding around $1.5 billion to the deficit.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma argued that the bill needed to be fully paid for and do a better job of addressing regulatory failures.  However, in November, the Senate finally passed the food safety bill.

Except for one problem.  A tax provision included in the Senate bill violated the revenue rule, so instead of being sent to President Obama’s desk, the bill remained stuck in Congress.

The Senate then put the food safety bill into the massive $1.1 trillion year-end omnibus bill, giving supporters of the measure renewed hope that it might still get passed after all.  But no.

Last Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in the face of widespread GOP opposition, decided to scrap the omnibus bill in favor of a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government into early 2011.  At that point the food safety bill was considered dead.  Until Sunday’s surprising development in the Senate, that is.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep232010

Senate Still Stuck in Food Safety Stalemate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For 15 months now, a bill to boost the nation’s food safety has been languishing in the U.S. Senate.  The bill would help prevent massive outbreaks of tainted food by giving the Food & Drug Administration the authority to order mandatory recalls and require more frequent inspections of high-risk food processing plants.  But some, like Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, continue to block its passage.

At a hearing on the egg recall on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged lawmakers to advance the bill with a defined amendment process, saying, “There’s no excuse to wait any longer.  Let’s move this common-sense bill and pass it.”  To do so, Reid needed every lawmaker to agree to his request, including Coburn. But to no one’s surprise, Coburn objected.

“We now have a bill that’s going to cost the American public $1.5 billion over the next five years and it doesn’t fix the real problem – and the real problem is the lack of focus of the agencies to do their job,” Coburn said.

Coburn told Reid he would only agree to move forward with the bill if the $1.5 billion cost was eliminated by offsets written into the bill itself, rather than subjected to specific votes during the amendment process. Coburn also wanted to remove an amendment that would ban the chemical bisphenol A from children’s food and drink containers. Reid said he’d think about it.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio