Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that for all intents and purposes makes food a controlled substance. As Senator Tom Coburn described it in an op-ed last week:
The so-called FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, which the Senate will vote on after Thanksgiving, only expands a disjointed, duplicative and ineffective food safety bureaucracy. The Government Accountability Office has consistently called this bureaucracy “high risk due to (its) greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement.”
Far from offering common-sense reforms, this bill doubles-down on the status quo — which failed to prevent the salmonella outbreak — with 250 pages of new bureaucracy and regulations. Expanding the Food and Drug Administration will harm small businesses and raise prices at the grocery store — all without having a meaningful impact on food safety.Rather than spending billions of dollars, forcing food companies to comply with new regulations, and saddling consumers with increased food prices, we should pursue reforms that will allow regulatory agencies to more effectively and efficiently prevent outbreaks. When Congress returns, my colleagues should reject the false assumption that growing government means safer food and instead promote market forces that work
Yesterday the bill sailed through the Senate and was sent back to a committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation. However according to Roll Call, a Senate screw-up has angered some House members and may cause the bill being delayed until the new Congress gets seated next year. All because the progressives in the Senate forgot about the constitution.
The Senate version of the bill includes new tax provisions violating the constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House.
By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.
Blue slipping is a rejection slip given to Senate tax and spending bills which have not originated in the House in the first place, per the House’s interpretation of the Origination clause of the Constitution.
The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage.
Section 107 of the bill includes a set of fees that are classified as revenue raisers, which are technically taxes under the Constitution. According to a House GOP leadership aide, that section has ruffled the feathers of Ways and Means Committee Democrats, who are expected to use the blue slip process to block completion of the bill.
“We understand there is a blue slip problem, and we expect the House to assert its rights under the Constitution to be the place where revenue bills begin,” the GOP aide said.
The blue slip could lead to one of two likely outcomes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could simply drop the issue and let the next session of Congress start from scratch, a strategy that would allow him time in the lame-duck session to tackle other last-minute priorities, such as the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, a long-term continuing resolution, an immigration bill and a repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members.
Or he could try to force the issue in the Senate after the House passes a new version of the bill. But in order to do that and still tackle the other issues, he would need a unanimous consent agreement to limit debate.
According to Senate GOP aides, a unanimous consent agreement is all but certain to be a nonstarter because the bill’s chief opponent, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), will not agree to such a deal.
Coburn “will object and demand changes as [he has] from the get-go,” a GOP aide familiar with the situation said.
It would be very ironic if this legislation designed to make food much more expensive, gets killed because of the progressives who ignored the Constitution to force the health care bill down our throats. We know that most members of the Senate do not read the Constitution, in this case it may be a good thing. Let’s hope this oppressive piece of legislation, that will raise food prices on all of us gets “blue slipped”