December 21, 2010

I Just Found Out This Bad News Folks! :( Congress Passed The Food Safety Bill Today! The Bill Is On Its To Pres Obama's desk!

written by Meredith Shiner
Tuesday December 21, 2010 at 10:35pm EST

The House on Tuesday approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation's food regulatory system - sending the popular bipartisan measure to the president's desk nearly a year and a half after it passed its first version of the bill.

The Food Safety and Modernization Act cleared the House by 215-144 less than two days after Senate Republicans gave a surprise victory to the legislation's advocates by allowing Democrats to move the package by unanimous consent. Though the Senate originally passed the bill in November, a clerical error voided the effort and many on both sides of the aisle worried Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would keep his word and block the legislation yet again as this Congress came to a close.

But when the Oklahoma Republican backed off his objections, the pathway opened for the bill that boosts the powers of the Food and Drug Administration to become law. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation as soon as Wednesday with the overhaul of a nearly-century-old system set to become yet another lame-duck achievement in a pile that already includes a tax deal, a repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy and a year-end spending plan to prevent government shutdown.

"On behalf of our nation's children, in the name of the health and well-being of all Americans, we have passed a major overhaul of American food safety that will protect lives and prevent illness," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement after the vote. "With the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, we will fundamentally change the way we protect public health and the safety of our food supply."

The food safety bill grants the FDA the authority to issue its own recalls over contaminated products. In addition, it provides for increased access to manufacturer records in the case of outbreak while also enabling third-party testing to ensure FDA-regulated products meet the standards set by the agency. The legislation includes exemptions for small farmers and processors, which were pushed by supporters of local food who worried that more stringent, and therefore likely expensive, rules would cut deeply into their ability to compete.

The legislation has ping-ponged between the two chambers since the House first passed it in July 2009. The bill spent more than a year in legislative purgatory and looked unlikely to be taken up by the Senate in one of its busiest sessions in years, but a salmonella outbreak over the summer [NOT A COINCIDENCE (emphasis mine)] that sickened thousands of Americans brought a searing spotlight to the issue and pressure for the upper chamber to act.

As more than a half billion eggs were being recalled across the country in August, top negotiators from both parties on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee met to create a workable bipartisan manager's amendment they felt they could move easily through the chamber. The package's chief sponsors spanned the political spectrum from Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Chris Dodd of Connecticut to Republicans Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

Please click HERE to read the entire article...

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