House sends FDA stern warning on 'hard science' requirement for regulations

"This response is unacceptable and makes us wonder why the FDA refuses to discuss the scientific basis for its conclusions," Leonard said. "We pledge that that the Energy and Commerce Committee will explore whether there are steps that Congress should take to prevent the FDA from pursing regulatory actions that are not based on sound scientific analysis and fact.

"Those at the FDA should know that many in Congress are watching and carefully studying whether the FDA's actions are justified," he added.

Lance's warning was made in the context of a decision to strike language in the agriculture appropriations bill. That bill contained language from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) that would require a "hard science" justification for the beef regulation and other rules.

Rehberg's language was seen as controversial, and even Rehberg himself agreed to remove the language from the bill. To make that happen, he worked with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who asked the Rules Committee to leave the language open to a point of order.

Lance raised the point of order Wednesday evening, and the language was removed, but not before Rehberg also warned that he would consider a different approach for reining in the FDA.

"I hope to work with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, as well as the Energy and Commerce Committee, to work with FDA in order to ensure that they examine the facts before moving forward with negotiations on regulations that will significantly impact Montana's number one industry," he said.

As expected, three other points of order were raised, which resulted in the striking of three other sections of the bill.

One section would have required 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 have blocked 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 have prevented any funds from being used to make payments to Brazil.