(H.R. 2749) Legislation designed to improve the monitoring of domestic and imported food - - on a motion to send the bill back to committee, with instructions to add language directing the Food and Drug Administration to spend new revenues generated by the bill on purchases of food from producers before it comes to market, and on additional food inspections
This was a motion by Rep. Lucas (R-OK) to send H.R. 2749, a bill designed to improve the monitoring of domestic and imported food, back to committee with instructions to add language directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on methods for spending the new revenues generated by the bill. Those new methods included advance purchases of food from producers to allow for its examination before it comes to market, and on additional food inspections.
The bill generated new revenues, which resulted from additional registration fees it imposed on those in the food industry. The instructions, regarding the additional language to be added to H.R. 2749, would have been to use the new revenues from the bill to pay for the additional food inspections mandated by the bill and to create a fund to indemnify growers mistakenly accused by the FDA of causing food contamination.
Lucas said: “The legislation before us provides the FDA with numerous punitive authorities as well as a new source of revenue charged to people wishing to be in the food business, but it does not require the FDA to spend one additional penny on the inspection of food . . . if we are going to call this bill the Food Safety Enhancement Act, we should probably have something in here that actually enhances food safety.”
He also said: “(W)e must not kid ourselves into believing that the FDA will not make . . . mistakes in the future. Wrongly implicating agriculture products to food-borne disease outbreaks can cause severe economic losses to farmers and ranchers, who can ill afford them. Unfortunately, this legislation does not address this real concern.”
Lucas added: “(N)othing in this motion adds to the cost of the bill, but it does strengthen FDA accountability, and it guarantees enhanced food safety inspection. He concluded his remarks by saying the changes he proposed “will not fix everything that we feel to be wrong with the legislation, but they will address some of the more significant problems.”
Rep. Dingell (D-MI), who was leading the support for the bill, opposed the motion. He began by making the observation that Rep. Lucas had claimed “the bill does not require FDA to spend one additional penny on the inspection of food. That is totally false . . . the bill directs FDA to spend its registration fees on food safety activities . . . the bill explicitly provides that food safety activities include conducting inspections. The bill also requires FDA to adhere to a rigorous mandatory inspection schedule based on risk.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 186-240. One hundred and seventy-seven Republicans and nine Democrats voted “aye”. All two hundred and forty “nay” votes were cast by Democrats. As a result, the House did not specify methods for spending the new revenues generated by H.R. 2746, and moved immediately to vote on passage of the bill designed to improve the monitoring of both domestic and imported food.