Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Lame Duck Flux, Food Safety Bill All But Dead

Saturday morning update: Asked about the status of  the food safety bill during a morning press conference covered by C-Span, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said: "The good news is it is not dead, the conversation is still alive on the floor of the Senate today."

Durbin said he is hopeful the measure can be included in "the wrap up" of the lame duck session.

Someone asked if he knew a Republican co-sponsor was saying it was dead, and Durbin replied: "I would have said the same thing an hour ago."
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Friday the House and Senate approved a measure to keep the government bills paid through Tuesday, as Democrats and Republicans scrambled to come to a deal for a longer-term stop gap measure.

As the budget situation becomes more contentious, major food safety legislation, which was attached to spending measures that failed to come to fruition last week, seems all but dead.

"It's not going anywhere. It's dead," Sen. Tom Coburn, the bill's most outspoken opponent, told ABC News Friday.

A spokesman from Coburn's office confirmed to Food Safety News that the senator would object to attaching the "so-called food safety bill" to the continuing resolution. Coburn's opposition forced Senate Democrats to file cloture to advance the bill in November.

Key Democrats maintain they will work to include the bill--which easily passed the House and Senate, but got caught in a constitutional glitch--in the final agreement. 

"We are working with our Republican colleagues to include this in the continuing resolution," a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) told Food Safety News via email.

A spokeswoman from Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin's (D-IA) office reiterated that Democrats had not ceded defeat yet.

"Chairman Harkin is making every effort to ensure that the bipartisan food safety bill is included in legislation that will be voted on before the end of the year," spokeswoman Justine Sessions said in an email. "We'll be able to send it to the President unless a Senator raises an objection to overhauling our food safety system for the first time in 70 years."

"This bill, which will create stronger protections against contaminated foods for American families, enjoys strong bipartisan support, and we hope that politics will not get in the way of good policy," added Sessions

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