WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) — A food-safety bill with bipartisan support that passed the House more than a year ago has been stalled in the Senate by its opponents, officials say.
The bill intended to fix many of the problems in the nation’s food-safety system is a priority for the Obama administration and has the backing of both industry and consumer groups, but it has been hobbled by a tight Senate calendar, one stubborn senator and advocates for small farmers, The New York Times reported.
With many bills needing to be passed before senators leave in October to campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada sought a routine agreement to limit debate on the measure.
But Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., refused, saying the powers granted to the Food and Drug Administration in the bill would have financial costs, and those costs need to be offset by spending reductions.
Reid criticized Coburn Thursday, saying, “In light of recent events like the egg recall in Iowa, it is unconscionable that Senator Coburn and his Republican colleagues are putting politics ahead of a common-sense, bipartisan bill to ensure that the food products our families consume every day are safe.”
Some small farmers and their advocates have raised complaints about the legislation, arguing that the new regulations would be too costly.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he would offer amendments that were “meant to let state and local laws deal with small producers, and the federal government will deal with the big guys.”
Both industry and consumer advocates say they’re against such exemptions, that all food needs to be safe and that state and local laws often provide few protections.
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