The House of Representatives is poised to vote on a historic food safety reform bill July 29.
As some lawmakers and lobbyists continue fighting for last-minute changes to the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, the bill was positioned for an expedited vote in the House on July 29, Capitol Hill sources report. However, Capitol Hill contacts said that the timing could change.
The Senate hasn’t completed work on its own food safety legislation.
Emily Boneing, a legislative aide for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said July 28 it is unknown if changes would be incorporated into the bill before the full House vote. No copy of the bill was available for review July 28, she said.
Kaptur and other six other lawmakers signed a letter to House Energy and Commerce leaders on July 23 seeking changes to address produce safety standards, traceability, registration fees and research priorities. Kaptur sought to focus FDA produce safety standards on value-added produce and also reduce record keeping requirements for traceability for smaller producers.
A Washington D.C. lobbyist, speaking on background, said it is all but certain the bill will pass. He said the legislation is vague, which allows the FDA to write regulations with considerable flexibility.
“The regulations will be the real law,” he said.
The food safety reform legislation is expected to come before the House July 29 under a suspension of the rules, said Tamara Hinton, spokeswoman for Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.However, she stressed that nothing was certain relative to the timing of the bill's introduction.
Under suspension of the rules, debate is limited to 20 minutes and there is no opportunity to add amendments to the legislation. However, leadership may extend the time allowed for debate.
In a July 27 statement, Lucas urged lawmakers not to rush the bill through Congress.
“H.R. 2749 is the result of a flawed and incomplete process. It will lead to huge regulatory burdens on our nation’s farmers and ranchers, and it contains very little that will actually contribute to the goal of safer food,” he said in the statement.
Lucas said there has not been support for the food safety bill from the producer community and he said he hasn’t even seen the bill.
Vance Publishing's Agritalk radio interviewed Lucas about the bill. Listen to his comments here.