Earlier today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2751 The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act with 215 voting for and 144 against. Ten Republicans voted for the bill (see Final Vote). This is the bill that the Senate passed by voice vote on Sunday, December 19th, with the Tester-Hagan amendment protecting small farms intact.
The food safety bill hit a roadblock after passing the Senate in late November because a provision requiring the collection of user fees violated the Constitutional mandate that all revenue-generating measures must originate in the House. House leaders then attached the bill as an amendment to two separate spending bills, neither of which were able to gain Republican support in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) circumvented the original technical mistake by attaching the bill to a House-originated measure (HR 2751) authorizing a cash-for-clunkers program – a “shell bill” with bipartisan support. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), who had threatened to filibuster S.510 in November, dropped his objection at the last minute, allowing the food safety bill to pass unanimously. The Washington Post reported this morning that Coburn staffer John Hart did not know why the Senator relented.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill before Christmas.