In 1999, I was being encouraged to run for the US Senate against then Senator Gorton. As part of my “vetting,” I met with Senators Daschle, Boxer and Reid in the minority leaders office. Under the watchful gaze of LBJ, I was asked why I was considering giving up a law practice. My answer was simply, that I wanted to move legislation on food safety. After being part of the effort to pass legislation, seeing Senator Reid explain why that legislation is dead makes me wonder what would have happened had I run.
MR. REID: MR. PRESIDENT, WE HAVE WORKED FOR THIS ENTIRE CONGRESS ON FOOD SAFETY. I’VE HAD A NUMBER OF PEOPLE FROM NEVADA, ABOUT A DOZEN PEOPLE FROM COME FROM NEVADA WHO HAVE TALKED ABOUT THEIR FOOD-BORNE ILLNESSES. CHILDREN WHOSE GROWTH STUNTED THEIR ENTIRE LIFE. ONE YOUNG WOMAN WHO SPENT 11 MONTHS IN THE HOSPITAL AS A RESULT OF EATING SOME TAINTED SPINACH. ALL OVER AMERICA THIS IS HAPPENING. WE HAVE FOOD SAFETY LAWS THAT ARE INADEQUATE AND CAUSING PEOPLE TO GET SICK BECAUSE THE FOOD ISN’T CHECKED CLOSELY ENOUGH. SENATORS DURBIN, HARKIN, HIM A, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE HAVE WORKED HARD TO GET SOMETHING DONE. I TALKED TO SENATOR McDONALD. HE THINKS — McDONALD. HE THINKS SOMETHING YOU — McCONNELL, HE THINKS THAT SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE. BUT — WE SPENT A WHOLE CONGRESS ON THIS AND AT THE LAST MINUTE, HE COMES IN AND LIKELY WE’RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET THIS DONE BEFORE WE GO HOME FOR OUR — BEFORE THE ELECTIONS. WHAT A SAD THING FOR OUR COUNTRY.PEOPLE ARE DYING AS A RESULT OF THESE PROBLEMS WITH FOOD. AND IT’S JUST A SHAME THAT WE CAN’T GET THIS DONE. THE PROCEDURES IN THE SENATE — WE HAVE ALMOST 400 MATTERS THAT HAVE PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND WE CAN’T DEAL WITH THEM HERE BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS SAY NO. THAT’S NOT THE WAY TO DO BUSINESS. IN YEARS PAST THESE THINGS WOULD HAVE GONE THROUGH REALLY VERY EASILY. I THINK THAT WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT SOMETHING AS IMPORTANT AS THIS AND I THINK THE FOCUS SHOULD BE WHERE IT DESERVES TO BE, ON THE PERSON THAT’S HOLDING THIS UP. IT’S TOO BAD. THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF EXCUSES, BUT EXCUSES DON’T DO THE TRICK, MR. PRESIDENT. THESE PEOPLE THAT COME TO SEE ME WHO HAVE BEEN DEATHLY ILL, ALL THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. THE LEGISLATION WOULD DO THAT. IT’S BIPARTISAN IN NATURE. SHOULD BE ABLE TO BE COMPLETED.