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The US House of Representatives has voted 237-18, with most Republicans abstaining, to pass a $90.7 billion funding bill requiring the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to come up with a plan to revamp the nation’s food safety procedures and then implement the plan by July 2009. The bill also mandates that a Country of Origin labeling (COOL) program for beef, pork, mutton and goat be in place by October 1, 2008.

The GOP members of the House refused to vote on procedural grounds, claiming that the Democratic majority was trying to muzzle debate.

The bill now goes to the US Senate. However, President Bush has said that he will veto the bill if it is passed by the Senate and ends up on his desk; the administration argues that the bill is too expensive and restrictive, and does not give it enough latitude to operate in a variety of areas.

President Bush named a working panel – largely made up of Cabinet officers – to evaluate the nation’s food safety apparatus and report back to him by mid-September.
KC's View:
It isn’t surprising that the White House would object to a bill that essentially preempts the President’s working panel.

Frankly, I don’t care whether the Republicans or the Democrats win the day on this one – as long as the result is a bill that works, that both makes the system more efficient and effective, and that puts science and safety above political and commercial concerns. Actually, a pretty good argument could be made that no political body or administration is capable of creating legislation and a revamped food safety system that meets these criteria…but we can always hope.

Then again, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”