This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) that would have cut $392 million from the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP). The CTP, which is part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regulates tobacco sales and advertising. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
Stearns urged support for his amendment: “We are rolling back funding for many other programs, and it's proper to ensure that FDA also bears some of the burden during some of these most austere budgetary times. Now, all of us know that smoking is bad. And the question is, what is the FDA doing through this Center for Tobacco Products?...I simply want to ensure that the FDA does not overreach with their authority, and ensure that it is using the best approach to ensure that tobacco harm is reduced.… I think this [amendment] is a modest attempt to try and save money. It's quite a substantial amount of money for a good cause, which is reducing our deficit, our debt.”
Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) opposed Stearns’ amendment: “California has, time after time, put taxes on the ballot to increase tobacco taxes, and they've passed overwhelmingly. And we use those fees that would come from the industry from the sale of--not even the industry, they come from the user to run very effective anti-tobacco campaigns. We reduced smoking in California almost to zero….to ambush the anti-tobacco campaign with this amendment is just--it's a giveaway to the tobacco companies and reduces the fees they have to pay and hurts the ability to eliminate the illness caused by tobacco; and anybody who's had cancer in their family, as I've had, is very, very aware of the illnesses caused by tobacco users. I think this is a very dangerous amendment and, hopefully, the gentleman will withdraw it. If not, we ought to oppose it.”
The House rejected Stearns’ amendment by a vote of 164-257. Voting “yea” were 161 Republicans and 3 Democrats. 184 Democrats and 73 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $392 million from the Center for Tobacco Products.