Food safety bill passes Senate, but dead in the water because …

posted at 8:48 am on December 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Apparently, no one told Harry Reid to check Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution before passing S510, the food-safety bill that Democrats hailed as a major lame-duck session achievement earlier this week — and which ran afoul of their own party in the House.  Section 107 of the bill raises taxes, and as any Constitutional scholar can attest — or anyone else who has actually read the document that Senators swore to uphold when taking office — only the House of Representatives has that power:

A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a 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.

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.

Now what?  The House will either block the bill entirely or pass its own version of it.  The latter option will mean that Reid will have to hold a vote to reopen debate on the bill, and will need unanimous consent to limit that debate.  Otherwise, it could take the rest of the legislative calendar in the Senate to move the bill before the session ends and the bill has to be reintroduced.  Even if the House cooperated, the bill could later be challenged in court as being procedurally deficient.

Reid can forget about unanimous consent.  Roll Call notes that Tom Coburn won’t agree to it due to his strong opposition to the bill in any form.  Meanwhile, the issue will continue to draw attention to Democrats’ continued expansion of the regulatory state while ignoring jobs and the budget.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats were crowing about this bill.  Today, they’ll be eating crow.


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I’d prefer to pay a bit extra for food if the FDA can order a mandatory recall. It seems to me that making sure our food supply is E-coli free is sort of one of the basic functions of government.

I guess that this makes me a RINO however.

Illinidiva on December 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

There are already safety protocols set for foods.
They are not being enforced.
And it is bcs the govt is incompetent.
This bill will not make you safer.
The govt is supposed to be the referee btw states.
Let the states make sure their own food is safe.
The food that crosses state lines, OK, fed territory.
But they haven’t been able to do it.
They don’t need any more laws or regs.
And look up irradiation.
This is the future for food safety.

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM

What’s the big deal on Food safety? Why is this bill bad?

I’ll tell you. No one wants more e-coli, etc. So how can this be bad

I’m unemployed, but have access to several acres of vacant land. I’ve been thinking about starting to farm it–mostly veggies, since no one around here really has a lot of veggies. Right now, I’d just plant next spring. Under this new bill, I will not be allowed to store my own seeds, or harvest them from my crop for the next year. Seeds are “food” and dirt is “contamination.” Ergo, I cannot have any seeds that I don’t buy from the Montsano’s of the world.

Second, lets say I grow some killer rhubarb and decide to take the next step and make a rhubarb pie to sell. Now I’m a food producer, and have to have sterilized equipment to the level of sterilizing my walls, etc. before I can sell my pie. Or if I make any item from my garden into anything else, I’m a producer and have to match all sorts of regulations.

It gets worse if you deal with animals-selling eggs or milk or cheese from milk. There’s huge stacks of regulations for EACH crop you want to grow. Fine if all you want to grow is beets, but what about a balanced field that rotates plants? Tons of regs. Fines, license fees, etc.

So why should I grow anything again?

Vanceone on December 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Badger40

irradiation scares people or it wouldn’t be the future, it would be the present.

audiculous on December 1, 2010 at 2:34 PM

This is such an effing nightmare. crr6 approves no doubt.

jawkneemusic on December 1, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I’m sure, but she’s too busy giving out well reasoned and thoughtful advice on the “Federal judge upholds ObamaCare mandate” thread.

BierManVA on December 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM

It gets worse if you deal with animals-selling eggs or milk or cheese from milk. There’s huge stacks of regulations for EACH crop you want to grow. Fine if all you want to grow is beets, but what about a balanced field that rotates plants? Tons of regs. Fines, license fees, etc.

So why should I grow anything again?

I agree. Those kinds of regulations are excessive.

As long as the minimum retirement age is on the track to eventually increase from 65 to closer to 70, I think the government needs to regulate behavior that leads to obesity. This country is filled with morbidly and otherwise obese people who are actually less healthy than the previous generation. Why should I have to subsidize their power scooters, disability coverage, Medicare funded diabetes treatment, and all the other conditions that result from their freedom to be fat? I don’t see the right to lurid obesity protected in the US Constitution.

Most doctors will tell you that the number of people unfit to lead a productive (aka working) life over the age of 55 due to obesity is steadily decreasing. And if those people can’t work, they become wards of the state that I have to support. So if the government wants to force people to be aware of their caloric intake, I’m all for it.

bayam on December 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

I’m not sure why the upset is over this either. I’d prefer to pay a bit extra for food if the FDA can order a mandatory recall. It seems to me that making sure our food supply is E-coli free is sort of one of the basic functions of government.

I guess that this makes me a RINO however.

Illinidiva on December 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

No, that doesn’t make you a RINO. But there is a heckuva lot more gubmint rules and oversight than just that. And this bill will do nothing to actually reduce E-coli contamination.

BierManVA on December 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM

There are already safety protocols set for foods.
They are not being enforced.
And it is bcs the govt is incompetent.
This bill will not make you safer.
The govt is supposed to be the referee btw states.
Let the states make sure their own food is safe.
The food that crosses state lines, OK, fed territory.
But they haven’t been able to do it.
They don’t need any more laws or regs.
And look up irradiation.
This is the future for food safety.

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Most food goes across state lines and that counts as interstate commerce. It also seems that the FDA doesn’t have the tools it needs to regulate this area, for instance a mandatory recall. It shocked me that the gov’t cannot demand that food producers take their product off the shelf in a timely manner.

Vanceone on December 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I highly doubt that the gov’t is going to take the time to go after you and your small vegetable garden. It seems that the issue isn’t going to affect farmers, but is more for the large agriculture producers. And considering the recalls, this strikes me as fine.

As for your rhubarb pie business, you’d already be regulated by the local governments and would need a license to bake pies and sell them.

Illinidiva on December 1, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I highly doubt that the gov’t is going to take the time to go after you and your small vegetable garden. It seems that the issue isn’t going to affect farmers, but is more for the large agriculture producers. And considering the recalls, this strikes me as fine.

As for your rhubarb pie business, you’d already be regulated by the local governments and would need a license to bake pies and sell them.

Illinidiva on December 1, 2010 at 3:02 PM

If they can go after a little girl with a lemonade stand, then they can go after anybody.
Large ag producers will get exemptions & favorable treatment out of this, as they always have.
For instance, large slaughter facilities are allowed to police themselves.
Meanwhile, USDA inspectors harass small operators.
There are few small butchers. And many of them buy bocked beef to further process from large slaughter facilities.
If an E coli etc outbreak occurs, USDA looks to the buyer of the bocked beef 1st. But contamination most always occurs at the slaughter site.
Where is the sense in this?
And again, irradiation would get rid of these E coli problems.
Also consider how few foodborne illness outbreaks there truly are in this country where millions of tons of food are consumed every year.
The incidence of illness is extremely low in the 1st place.
As I said above, we do not need more regulation.
And our food, in most cases, actually is very safe.
When the origin of your food is known, & an outbreak occurs, it is easy to switch to the safer food.
Labeling allows consumers this choice.
That is why I support COOL. Large slaughter facilities do not.
Wonder why?

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 3:43 PM

bocked beef

BOXED.
:P

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 3:43 PM

It seems that the issue isn’t going to affect farmers, but is more for the large agriculture producers. Illinidiva on December 1, 2010 at 3:02 PM

I have to point out here that bills like this do affect the little guy.
Look at feed lots.
In an attempt to regulate feed lot run off, the EPA now requires a permitting process that costs a feedlot a minimum of $50,000 so that they can feed something like 300+ beef cattle.
That is a crippling amount to a small producer.
It is under the guise of ‘safety’ that the government has put the small family farmer & rancher out of business & made easy the rise of huge ag conglomerates.
You are no safer than you were before.
And in fact, I would argue you are more at risk with the concentration of agriculture than you are with more producers & processors out there.
If there is a recall on beef, there’s like 3 big packers & that is it. Not a good scenario.
And again, recalls are few & far between.
You are hyping this. It happens rarely.
Outbreaks happen rarely.
And many food illnesses happen bcs of prep & storage by the pwner of the food.

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 3:48 PM

This whole thing is designed to put the little guy out of business. And here I’ve been told the democrats are the party of the little guy. Yeah, right.

abcurtis on December 1, 2010 at 5:56 PM

So why should I grow anything again?

Vanceone on December 1, 2010 at 2:23 PM

This bill will cut out the little guy making it easier for the Unions to concentrate on 2-3 large companies.

TN Mom on December 1, 2010 at 8:13 PM

I said to myself the excuse for obongocare was that they wanted control over a large part of the economy under the guise of peoples needs

I thought well, only some people get sick but all people need to eat

lo and behold

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 8:28 PM

Most doctors will tell you that the number of people unfit to lead a productive (aka working) life over the age of 55 due to obesity is steadily decreasing. And if those people can’t work, they become wards of the state that I have to support. So if the government wants to force people to be aware of their caloric intake, I’m all for it.
bayam on December 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

nice, but the government is the most major cause of dependence so spare me the BS

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 8:32 PM

As for others who feel that more regulations are necessary

I don’t recall any large scale deaths for the hundreds of millions of people who manage to eat everyday

I would say the system is pretty good going by the numbers

but if they pull this off they will raise the cost of living again and give us less choices

there are truly sinister forces at work

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 8:36 PM

I don’t recall any large scale deaths for the hundreds of millions of people who manage to eat everyday

I would say the system is pretty good going by the numbers

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 8:36 PM

I agree.
There are very few real food poisoning incidents from unsafe food.
Most poisonings occur when people don’t prepare or store their food properly.

Badger40 on December 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM

I’ll add that the government regulated the hell out of offshore drilling

Wasn’t it amusing to see how helpless they actually were when the sheet hit the fan

they had no skills to bring to the solution

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 9:12 PM

bayam on December 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Commies are so cute at your age.
What would we do without you?

deptofredundancydept on December 1, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Think your food is safe?

Here is a list of recalls for 2010 alone

Eat well.

BobMbx on December 1, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Show me a list of deaths

If those recalls worked why do we need more regs (cost increases)

no system is 100% but it seems to have worked

read the BP thought?

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 10:11 PM

And I am eating real well and I am thoroughly unimpressed with the list

I bet it represents less then a percent of a percent

sure lucky the gov reg the drilling industry

did you notice how impotent they are unless you consider the costs they incur

Sonosam on December 1, 2010 at 10:18 PM

As a small business restaurateur in Wisconsin I grow my own greens and vegetables every year for use in the business. I also buy locally from many great small farms…the 1099 regulation will only expand government to make sure that “compliance” is foremost. I’m beginning to hate this administration I was willing to give a pass to….

psychocyber on December 1, 2010 at 11:10 PM

Most doctors will tell you that the number of people unfit to lead a productive (aka working) life over the age of 55 due to obesity is steadily decreasing. And if those people can’t work, they become wards of the state that I have to support. So if the government wants to force people to be aware of their caloric intake, I’m all for it.
bayam on December 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Didn’t you mean that the number of unfit people over 55 is steadily increasing?

Jimbo3 on December 1, 2010 at 11:22 PM

BobMbx on December 1, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Voluntary recall bcs of possible health risks was the 1st one on the list.
OK. As Sonofsam said, where are the death #s?
Where are the confirmed illness #s?

And if those people can’t work, they become wards of the state that I have to support. So if the government wants to force people to be aware of their caloric intake, I’m all for it.
bayam on December 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

No that is OK with me, too. If you’re taking govt $$ for your support, then you can’t complain when there are strings attached.
Good incentive for getting up off of your a$$.

psychocyber on December 1, 2010 at 11:10 PM

Is the 1099 provision in this bill, too, like in Obamacare?
I don’t know, but in our ranching & trucking business, this would be ridiculously time consuming & btw my husband trucking & me feeding cows & stuff, this would just be over the top.
My husband already has loads of retarded paperwork on the trucking side of things.

Badger40 on December 2, 2010 at 7:52 AM

So I guess my first question is…

In all of the blogging on HotAir about the DWTS Bristol Palin controversy, why is the first time you managed to even mention S510? Or, was the FDA seizing control of the food supply in this country somehow not as relevant to inform the public on until it was passed?

In other news, the blogosphere goes the way of the “mainstream media”; merely regurgitating stories they heard elsewhere rather than actually filling in the gaps.

Levinite on December 2, 2010 at 12:18 PM

Levinite on December 2, 2010 at 12:18 PM

I’ve known about it for a long time.
And you have a point.
That’s why I go all over for my news.

Badger40 on December 2, 2010 at 2:28 PM

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