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By pre-empting the House’s tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.
The Senate’s controversial FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) now appears to be dead in the water! As we reported to you yesterday, the Senate passed its version of the Food Safety bill by a margin of 73 to 25, and sent it on to the House of Representatives for approval. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) had previously agreed to accept the Senate’s bill in place of the House’s version, already approved, so this approval was expected to be pro-forma.
But it turns out that Section 107 of the Senate bill contains a revenue-raising (i.e., taxing) provision. And such a provision is unconstitutional: “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” according to Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution. Because the Senate violated the funding origination clause, the House has implemented a procedure known as “blue slipping” to block the bill, keeping it out of consideration and sending it back to the Senate.
The only possible “quick fix” would be a unanimous consent agreement in the Senate to strike that revenue-raising provision from the bill—but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has already stated that he will oppose, so unanimity will be impossible. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now faced with some tough choices: spend a huge amount of time all over again to deal with this (which is unlikely in a Lame Duck Congress, especially considering how controversial the bill is); or do nothing, and allow the bill to die at the end of this Congress. This will mean a new Food Safety Bill will be introduced next year—but next year’s Congress will be very different from the current one, so we expect that the bill will look very different, and could be much more favorable to the natural health community. As always, we will keep you posted on any new developments. Sincerely, The Alliance for Natural Health USA