GOP blasts Dems for including food safety in funding bill

House Republicans objected to the House Democrats’ insertion of the food-safety bill into the continuing resolution to fund the federal government through Sept. 30.

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), the incoming Agriculture Committee chairman, said Democrats are resorting to legislative tricks to pass the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

“This is the sort of nonsense that Americans rejected just a few weeks ago,” Lucas said Wednesday afternoon on the House floor.

The food-safety bill passed the Senate last week, but a procedural error forced the House to reconsider the measure. Democrats feared that Republicans would try to stall the bill throughout the rest of the lame-duck session. Instead, on Wednesday morning, they tucked the food-safety bill into a continuing resolution to keep the government running past Dec. 18.

“[Democrats] have shut out Republicans over the past four years, and they continue to shut out common sense and the American people,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Some Republicans have objected to the bill because they said it gives too much authority to the Food and Drug Administration and creates too much of a burden on small farmers and ranchers.

The food-safety bill passed the Senate 73-25 last month before the technical glitch was discovered. A stronger version passed the House in 2009 by a vote of 283-142, but House Democrats are trying to pass the Senate version because they believe it is more politically feasible.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who co-chairs the House Hunger Caucus, said he was “baffled” by the controversy over the bill, which would represent the most major changes to food-safety practices in more than 70 years.

“The fact is the food safety in this country needs to be strengthened and modernized,” McGovern said.