It appeared on Tuesday, November 30, that the Food Safety bill (S. 510) had finally made it’s way through the Senate, having been passed by a 73-25 margin. But before the bill’s supporters had time to celebrate, the bill was blocked on its way to the House for passage. Apparently, the bill contained a section that would impose fees on importers, and also on farmers and food processors whose food is recalled because of contamination. If these fees are determined to actually be taxes, then the Senate vote is nullified because these types of tax provisions can only originate in the House.
What will happen now? Supporters worry that the bill will run into obstacles from Senate Republicans, who are threatening to block all other legislation until expiring Bush-era tax cuts are extended and a bill is passed to fund the federal government. As a way around the anticipated obstacles, the House may try to add the food safety legislation to this bill and send it back to the Senate.