Despite support from food-industry allies such as Rep Jim Costa and Rep. Adam Putnam, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 failed to reach the supermajority needed for passage in the House of Representatives today.
The yeas were 280 and the nays were 150, but the two-thirds supermajority (287) was not reached to pass the bill under a suspension of the rules that limited debate to 40 minutes.
Patrick Delaney, communications manager for the United Fresh Produce Association,Washington, D.C. said United Fresh was exploring the reasons why the bill failed and what the next steps might be for the House food safety legislation.
Opposition from the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agriculture organizations that were wary of Food and Drug Administration encroachment may have cost the bill some votes, though House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., worked with House Energy and Commerce leaders to smooth over worries that the FDA would seek to regulate grain and livestock producers.
While the bill drew some opposition from Republicans in House debate, members of both parties praised the bill as a bipartisan product.
Putnam, R-Fla., praised the effort of Costa, D-Calif., in helping to put together a bill that brings together America’s farmers ranchers and consumers. However, Putnam said a number of features of the bill — particularly language relating to the FDA’s power to quarantine food and mandate traceability — need further work.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the legislation deserves support.
“The process is fair, the product is fair, I strongly encourage a yes vote,” he said during the debate.
“This bill begins a long task of rectifying decades of neglect by updating FDA’s ancient tools outdated mandate,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
DeLauro said the bill gives enhance the agency ability to prevent contamination of food by giving the agency the ability to inspect the highest risk facilities once every six months to a year rather than once a decade.
She also said it also enhances reporting requirements for companies and establishing performance standards for fighting food based pathogens.
“This bill is a strong solid first step in creating a food safety system that can protect American families from contaminated food,” DeLauro said.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, said that he objected to the fact the House Agriculture Committee was not involved in putting together the bill and stated his opposition to it.
We did a piece on this so called “Food Safety Bill” not to long ago. We received several messages from Congressman Putnam’s office regarding the story. It seems that exemptions were added to the bill. You can find our original post here