Senate Appropriations Committee to vote for increased food-safety funding

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote Wednesday on legislation to increase funding for food safety by $40 million to $45 million next fiscal year, Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinThe Hill's 12:30 Report Distance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds MORE (D-Iowa) told The Hill.

The move sets up a clash with House Republicans who last May voted to slash the $837 million FY 2011 budget for food safety by $87 million for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. President Obama has asked for $955 million for FY 2012.

Harkin is the No. 2 Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies. He has long been a champion of increased scrutiny for the nations food supply. He said bipartisan support for food-safety legislation enacted earlier this year and a recent spate of foodborne illnesses leave him confident that the bill will pass the Senate.

Im hopeful, he said. We need to ramp it up.

The committee vote comes as public-health advocates and some industry groups have been pressing for increased food-safety funding. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA took out ads in Capitol Hill newspapers Tuesday and Wednesday making that case.

With responsibility for products that [compose] more than 20 percent of U.S. consumer spending, the FDA oversees industries that are key to our nations growth and prosperity, the ad reads. A science-based and predictable FDA helps many industries — including food, drug, medical device, and cosmetics — to innovate and create high-paying American jobs while improving our balance of trade.