Food Safety Bill To Move Later This Month After Senate Agreement

(Via Inside U.S. Trade)

The Senate Democratic Leadership and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) late last week reached a unanimous consent agreement on the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), clearing the way for a final Senate vote right after the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 29.

They reached a unanimous consent agreement on Nov. 18 to begin the floor action with a cloture vote on an amendment in the nature of a substitute that was unveiled in August by Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA). The substitute amendment would replace the committee version of the bill as approved by the HELP Committee.

If cloture is invoked, the discussion will proceed to four key amendments for a time period of about five hours. Two of these amendments are sponsored by Coburn, who has filed one to establish a two-year congressional ban on earmarks through fiscal year 2013.

The second amendment Coburn filed is an alternative to the pending food safety bill that he claims would cost less than the pending version. It would not expand the Food and Drug Administration’s power to increase facility inspections and focuses more on having federal agencies coordinate food safety work under their existing authority.

The other two amendments that will be presented by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) deal with the repeal of a reporting requirement for business purchases exceeding $600 that was used as a cost offset in the health care legislation.

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