Dems blast minibus for ‘pizza as a vegetable,’ other policy riders

The USDA proposed a rule that would not allow tomato paste to be counted as a vegetable, along with others aimed at reducing starchy foods such as potatoes. Polis added that the language in the bill, H.R. 2112, also allows taxpayer subsidies to go toward tomato paste, when it should really be used to promote consumption of actual vegetables in school.

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I eat pizza, most of my constituents eat pizza, he said. But when were talking about taxpayer subsidies for healthy vegetables to make sure that theyre available for kids ... making sure theres some broccoli, making sure theres some spinach, making sure theres something healthy for them to eat at the school lunch counter. Pizza alone, particularly pizza with no vegetables on it, just tomato paste — its common sense, its not a vegetable.

Whats next, are Twinkies going to be considered a vegetable? he said.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) spoke against another rider that would allow Maine and Vermont to allow trucks weighing as much as 100,000 pounds on their interstate highways. Under current federal law, trucks cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds.

McGovern said heavier trucks are a larger safety threat, and criticized the inclusion of the language when it had not been vetted by Congress.

I strongly oppose the Maine and Vermont policy rider in this appropriations bill, and I regret very, very much that this was included without the appropriate hearing, without the appropriate oversight, without doing it out in the open, so people can understand what the policy implications are by making this exemption, he said.

The House finished debate on the rule for the minibus spending bill at about 1 p.m., and was expected to vote on the rule for that bill later Thursday. In addition to the continuing resolution, the bill funds the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Transportation.

The bill also contains other policy riders, including language that prohibits the Justice Department from maintaining information on people who pass firearms checks, prohibits the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States and prevents the creation of a new climate service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.