Thus was a vote on an amendment by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) that would have increased funding provided by an agriculture bill for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by $49 million. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
Dingell argued that the FDA needed additional funding to guard against outbreaks of food-borne illness: “The amendment sees to it that Food and Drug has the resources it needs to do the job to protect the American people from bad food being imported into the United States. We are able to inspect less than 1 percent of the food coming into the United States. This is a positive risk to the American consuming public….We are here, by this amendment, giving Food and Drug the resources that it needs, some $49 million, to see to it that these imported foods and other foods are safe. This is extremely important. And while you might say, well, I don't know whether it is going to affect me, somebody in this country is going to get sick because bad food came in and because it kills people when that happens.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) opposed the amendment: “You have 311 million Americans eating three meals a day. That's 933 million meals eaten each day. That's nearly 1 billion food consumption events in our country, which is over 360 billion meals consumed. If you do the math in going back to the 48 million food-borne illnesses, according to the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture], our food safety rate is 99.99 percent. I want to address the 48 million, but what I also suggest to you is that we can spend $45 million more for FDA funding; we can spend $100 million more or we can spend $1 billion more, but I don't think you can increase this number of a 99.99 percent food safety rate…So, in these times of very tight budgets, it is very important to keep these facts in mind.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 178-241. Voting “yea” were 171 Democrats and 7 Republicans. 229 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have increased funding provided by an agriculture bill for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by $49 million.