So, where are we on Food Safety in the USA – specifically S. 510 and H.B 2749? A good start would be to see my last few posts for details on where I think things are and perhaps some ways out of the mess.
In Summer 2009, I asked Senate Republican staff why they did not have funding in S. 510. I was told that they did not want to have there Senators vote on a tax increase, so there was not revenue raised in the Senate Bill. They then expected to simply agree to House Bill 2749’s $500 registration fee in conference and avoid the vote.
Where are we now? Personally, I do not think Section 107 of S. 510 is a tax that goes against the origination clause, but my opinion does not count. At this point, I think the only option is for the Senate to agree to strip Section 107 out (I do not believe this requires a vote, although it may well). Then I believe the two bills can go to conference and NOT require a re-vote by either chamber.
But, what I am hearing is that both House and Senate leadership (Rs and Ds) think that the Senate will need to vote to strip Section 107 (will need also too overcome a Coburn filibuster) and then the House must assent to the Senate Bill – shades of vote of Health Care. However, some House members are now pulling out over the Tester Amendment because they think the exclusions to small farmers are too broad.
Hopefully, some level of sanity prevails over the next few days or weeks, or simply do what Sarah says – “Man up.”
Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents victims of food-borne illness outbreaks, said that because of changing congressional priorities and a tilt toward Republicans, it’s now or never for food safety reforms.
“If they don’t find a way, you won’t see a food safety bill for a decade,” Marler said. “It’ll be toast.”