Like a fallen eater rising from the mat after a nasty case of food poisoning, the food safety bill staggered back to life yesterday. On Wednesday, the House essentially passed the most recent Senate version of the bill — but it did so as as part of a larger bill to fund the federal government for the next several months. Now the whole package heads to the Senate.
Confused? Well, the much-abused food-safety bill — hotly (and OK, lengthily) debated on Grist in our recent Food Fight series — came down with a serious case of drama last week. After finally coming to a vote on the Senate floor, the bill passed by a margin of 3-to-1. All that was left was approval by the House, which was widely expected, since it had already passed its own food-safety bill (even more industry-friendly than the Senate version). But then that version turned out to have a technical glitch in its language that invalidated the Senate vote.
With both chambers ensnared in a flurry of legislation to consider before the lame-duck session ends, time became of the essence. So the House simply dropped a Constitutionally corrected version of the Senate bill into its larger budget resolution. The resolution passed 212-206. And now the Senate must consider again a bill that it has already overwhelmingly approved — but this time as part of a much broader package. Will it pass? We’ll find out soon. “The Senate is expected to vote on the food safety bill … in the next few days,” reports Food Safety News writer Helena Bottemiller.