Happy Thanksgiving! How Earmarks Could Complicate the Food Safety Fight

By Matt Jaffe

Nov 17, 2010 1:08pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

Senate Democrats today succeeded in moving forward with a food safety bill that the chamber has been sitting on for nearly a year and a half, but the measure could be delayed yet again by a bipartisan push for a full Senate vote on an earmark ban stronger than the one Republicans adopted yesterday.

The Senate opted by a vote of 74-25 to start debate on the food safety bill. The bill aims to prevent massive outbreaks of tainted food by giving the Food & Drug Administration the authority to order mandatory recalls and require more frequent inspections of high-risk food processing plants.

But the bill still needs to get final passage in the Senate and it could be held up again by an effort by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-OK, John McCain, R-AZ, Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Mark Udall, D-CO, to attach an amendment that would force all senators to vote on an earmark moratorium stronger than the one adopted by the GOP last night. While the Senate GOP’s moratorium is not binding, the anti-pork foursome wants one that would be.

With the vast majority of Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, against an earmark ban, a straight up-or-down vote is unlikely, but one option for the anti-pork crowd could be to request a roll call vote on their motion to take up the amendment. Such a vote could be seen as an on-the-record vote on an earmark ban.

Earlier today Senate Republicans shot down a bill that aims to make sure that women get paid as much as men for doing similar work.

Democrats got 58 votes for the measure, which needed 60 to proceed. Every Republican voted against the bill, while every Democrat voted for it, except for Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Afterwards a dejected Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, a co-sponsor of the bill, expressed her displeasure.

“This issue shouldn’t be controversial, and it shouldn’t be political: it should be about right and wrong. And it’s simply wrong that women only earn 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and that so many women doing the same job as men are earning significantly less,” Murray said in a statement. “Despite years of progress, our country has still not yet completely eliminated discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.”

 

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