EINNEWS, November 19—A major, totally unrelated roadblock is keeping the U.S. Senate from voting on a food safety bill that seems certain to pass if it ever comes up for an yes or no vote.
The vote was scheduled for Thursday, but Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, a fierce opponent of the measure, blocked passage by demanding consideration of an unrelated amendment to ban spending earmarks. Coburn’s tactic caused the legislative clock to expire before the scheduled vote. It will have to be reset for another day.
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has threatened to keep the Senate in session through the weekend to complete action on the measure. Prospects for passage were increased Wednesday when the three-fourths of the senators voted to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat managing the bill, said that the House has promised to accept the Senate version, which would avoid a time-consuming conference committee and another round of voting.
President Obama supports the measure and has said he will sign it.
The bill would give the FDA the power to mandate food recalls and set new safety standards for food produced in the U.S. and imported from abroad.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, has trying to include in the bill a ban on the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, which has been linked to some cancers, in baby bottles and cups. On Wednesday, she withdrew the amendment from consideration.
Before the Coburn amendment, Democrat Jon Tester of Montana agreed to compromise on an amendment he was sponsoring to exempt small farms and food processors from new FDA oversight. That action drew the ire of big agriculture groups.
For more food safety news, visit Food Safety News Today (http://foodsafety.einnews.com), a food safety media monitoring service from EIN News.