Food safety legislation (H.R. 2749, Dingell-Waxman bill) failed to secure a two-thirds majority needed to pass a parliamentary hurdle in the House of Representatives yesterday. Although a majority favored the measure (280 in support to 150 opposed), it was less than the super-majority necessary to pass the bill under a process called “suspension of the rules.” Suspension of the rules means that debate is limited to 40 minutes and no additional amendments to the bill are allowed.
“Opposition to this bill was primarily a protest against the process that was used on this legislation,” said Florida Congressman Adam Putnam. “Although I supported this bill, I noted there remain significant portions that should be amended. And the parliamentary process the majority attempted to use today did not allow us to offer amendments and greatly limited debate time to only 40 minutes. I will be working with my colleagues to address these changes, and I believe we can agree on a process to get this legislation passed.”
On Monday, Frank Lucas, the ranking Republican of the Agriculture Committee, sent a letter to his colleagues in the House of Representatives urging them to not rush H.R. 2749, through Congress. In its current form, he said the food safety bill will lead to huge regulatory burdens for growers and it contains very little that will actually achieve the goal of safer food.
“Our nation has the safest food supply in the world,” said Lucas. “Even so, we must continually examine our food production and regulatory system, and move forward with changes that improve food safety. But to do so without thoughtful and careful deliberation is simply irresponsible. H.R. 2749 is the result of a flawed and incomplete process. It will lead to huge regulatory burdens on our nation’s farmers and ranchers, and it contains very little that will actually contribute to the goal of safer food.
“During a recent Committee hearing on the general topic of food safety, not a single producer witness would support this bill in its current form,” he continued. “Now Members of the House are being asked to vote on this bill without consideration, debate, or the opportunity to improve it. Worst yet, we haven’t even seen the bill and we can’t even obtain a copy of it.”
Source: Press releases from House Committee on Agriculture Republicans and Adam Putnam