What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Consumer Protection : (H.R. 2749) On final passage of a bill designed to improve the monitoring for consumer safety of domestic and imported food (2009 house Roll Call 680)
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(H.R. 2749) On final passage of a bill designed to improve the monitoring for consumer safety of domestic and imported food
house Roll Call 680     Jul 30, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on passage of H.R. 2749, a bill designed to improve the monitoring for consumer safety of domestic and imported food. Among the provisions of H.R. 2746, , as described by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, was a requirement that every food facility implement a food safety plan; that the Department of Health and Human Services issue rules to minimize the hazards from food-born contaminants which are based on actual testing and observations, establish standards for raw agricultural commodities using results from previous inspections, examine facilities based on a schedule that uses historical statistics to determine the likelihood of contamination, create a program for accreditation of laboratories that perform tests of food for import or export, and form a group dedicated to inspections of foreign food facilities. The bill also created new protections for “whistleblowers”, or industry or department insiders who report improper behavior.

Rep. Dingell (D-MI), who leading the support for the bill, noted that it also gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “both the authority and the funds to address not only American foods but foods being imported . . . .” H.R.2749 was supported by the Centers for Science and Public Interest, Consumers Union, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a large industry group.

The reasons for opposition to the bill were expressed by Rep. Lucas (R-OK), who referred to it as “another example of Federal power without the benefit of careful consideration.” He singled out for “particular concern” the federal mandate in H.R. 2749 “that the Food and Drug Administration set on-farm production performance standards. For the first time, we would have the Federal Government prescribing how our farmers grow crops (although) . . . We have been doing it for a very long time, and we have been doing it without the FDA.”

Lucas also argued that the bill “leaves our nation's fruit and vegetable producers subject to objectionable regulatory burdens.” In addition, he claimed: “(N)ew quarantine authorities for FDA will undermine animal and plant inspection control programs that have been in place at the Department of Agriculture for decades.” Lucas concluded his remarks by saying: “(T)he vast majority of these provisions, along with new penalties, record-keeping requirements, traceability, labeling, country-of-origin labeling, will do absolutely nothing to prevent food-borne disease outbreaks, but will do plenty to keep the Federal bureaucracy busy.”

The legislation passed by a vote of 283-142. Two hundred and twenty-nine Democrats and fifty-four Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and twenty-two Republicans and twenty Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House passed and sent on to the Senate a bill designed to improve the monitoring for consumer safety of both domestic and imported food.

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