House expected to strip FDA language, other parts of agriculture approps bill

The amendment, from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), has been widely criticized by the FDA and others as something that would inappropriately limit the ability of FDA to ensure consumer safety. This led Rehberg to reconsider it, and he ultimately came around to support efforts to strike the language.

To get there, he worked with House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who formally objected to the language with the Rules Committee and said it amounts to an attempt to legislative on an appropriations bill. This led Rules to approve a rule that does not protect this section from a point of order, which is expected to be heard late Wednesday.

Rehberg Spokesman Jed Link said Rehberg would continue to work in other ways to improve the regulatory process at FDA. "Congressman Rehberg has been working with Chairman Upton to highlight his concerns about FDA's burdensome and unscientific regulations on Montana's ag community while avoiding any unintended consequences that could come through the appropriations process," he said.

Three other sections of the bill were objected to by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), and thus are also exposed to points of order.

One would require the government to reduce cotton subsidies to offset payments being made to Brazil's cotton industry as the result of a trade dispute, and another would block farm subsidies to any farmer with income above $250,000. Both of these provisions came from Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

The third section, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), would prevent any funds from being used to make payments to Brazil.

DeLauro and other Democrats spoke in anger Tuesday afternoon about the Rules Committee decision on the Brazil payments. They said they expect the language to be stripped, which they added would likely take funds away from other needed programs.

The rule for the bill, H.R. 2112, was approved Tuesday afternoon, and members were preparing to begin debate on amendments in the late afternoon.

-- This story was updated at 3:57 p.m. Wednesday to include information about Rehberg's support for the decision to eliminate the FDA language. The earlier version of the story incorrectly implied that Rehberg did not support efforts to strike the language.