November 17, 2010
Today, November 17, the Senate voted 74 to 25 to invoke cloture on the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510), bypassing Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) threatened filibuster to bring the bill to the floor for limited debate.
The wide margin of passage for the cloture motion suggests that the next vote – on the motion to proceed to consideration of the bill – and the one after that – on approving the Manager’s amendment – will likely also pass handily. The timing of those next votes is still unknown, with some observers predicting further debate and possibly votes yet this week and others assuming nothing further will happen until after next week’s Thanksgiving recess.
Substantial progress has been made in the last few days on the Tester-Hagan amendment. It now appears there is an excellent chance for the revised amendment to be included in a revised Manager’s amendment. NSAC continues to push for such an outcome, and we encourage readers to continue to weigh in with their Senators in support of the Tester-Hagan provision and its inclusion in the Manager’s amendment and thereby into the final bill.
Following the cloture vote, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, took the floor to express concern with the Tester amendment, citing arguments from the United Fresh Produce Association, American Meat Institute, and others who oppose the amendment. Chambliss announced he not only voted against cloture, but will also vote against final passage of S. 510, a bill on which he was an original sponsor.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed amendment limiting the use of bisphenol-A (BPA), particularly in baby bottles and children’s food and drink containers, may not make it into the final bill due to pressure from chemical manufacturers , according to this report from E&E News.
The food safety bill may be further slowed down in the politically-charged lame duck session as Senators Coburn (R-OK), McCaskill (D-MT), McCain (R-AZ), and Udall (D-CO) signaled their intent to introduce an amendment banning earmarks to S.510. This amendment, completely unrelated to food safety, would normally not be in order following a cloture vote. However, the headline-grabbing nature of the earmark issue might well result in at least a long debate and possibly a waiver of the rules to allow a vote on the measure.
Categories: Food Safety