Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter - The Packer

Food safety debate: Transcripts of the final chapter

12/22/2010 09:44:35 AM
Tom Karst

Pitts, Joseph "Joe"U.S. Representative
[R] Pennsylvania

Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

At the Energy and Commerce Committee, food safety has been a bipartisan priority. We have held numerous hearings during the last two Congresses, examining food safety problems involving peppers and peanut butter and what we can do to solve those problems. During those hearings, we have heard about how much work our Nation's farmers, manufacturers, and distributors do to put low-cost, high-quality food on the tables of more than 300 million people every day. We also have heard about how much our Nation's children and our Nation's farmers and small businesses can be hurt when one irresponsible actor sells adulterated, contaminated food.

Thanks to helpful testimony from hearing witnesses and hard work by our committee members, we were able to come up with some good ideas to help solve those food safety problems. Those ideas were found in the Food Safety Enhancement Act, which passed the House in July of 2009 and represented the bipartisan work of Chairman Waxman, Chairman Emeritus Dingell, Chairman Pallone, Chairman STUPAK, Governor-Elect Deal, and Ranking Member SHIMKUS.

The Food Safety Enhancement Act passed more than 16 months ago. The Senate finally passed its food safety bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, Senate 510, during the lame duck session. The provisions of Senate 510 are contained in the bill that we are considering today with no substantive changes from what passed the Senate 3 weeks ago.

I intend to vote against this bill because it represents such a gross departure from reasonable legislating. When the Senate passed its food safety bill 3 weeks ago, we asked our majority to take the bill to conference. Instead, we were forced to vote on the Senate bill with no substantive changes as part of the continuing resolution 2 weeks ago.

During the 111th Congress, we have learned a great deal about how not to do things, and this bill presents us with another example. Instead of just taking up the Senate bill, we should have held a conference. We've been told we couldn't do that because there wasn't enough time. Well, instead of naming post offices, we should have rolled up our sleeves and gotten to work on negotiating. And now, 3 weeks and many post offices later, the majority says we have to take it or leave it.

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