Fox, Conservatives Turn on Boehner for Clean Debt Ceiling Bill

Meghan Mccarthy
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Meghan McCarthy
Feb. 11, 2014, 8:19 a.m.

Cit­ing GOP op­pos­i­tion, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Re­id said Thursday the cham­ber is un­likely to con­sider food safety le­gis­la­tion be­fore it leaves for the midterm elec­tions.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is the lone op­pon­ent to a bi­par­tis­an bill that would over­haul how the FDA mon­it­ors the na­tion’s food sup­ply.

“We spent a whole Con­gress on this, and at the last minute, he comes in, and likely we’re not go­ing to be able to get this done be­fore we go home,” said Re­id on the Sen­ate floor.

Re­id used the ex­ample of the food safety bill to lament the back­log of House-passed le­gis­la­tion that is un­likely to get Sen­ate con­sid­er­a­tion due to Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion, and he urged mem­bers to fo­cus on the “per­son that’s hold­ing this up.”

“We have al­most 400 mat­ters that have passed the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives, and we can’t deal with them be­cause the Re­pub­lic­ans say no. That’s not the way to do busi­ness. In years past, these things would have gone through really very eas­ily,” Re­id said.

Coburn countered by call­ing for a floor de­bate on the le­gis­la­tion’s mer­its.

“If the ma­jor­ity lead­er wants the bill to ad­vance, he should pay for it,” Coburn said in a state­ment. “If he doesn’t want to pay for it, he should then bring it to the floor and ex­plain to the Amer­ic­an people why he can’t cut a penny of waste­ful Wash­ing­ton spend­ing to pay for a bill he says is a mat­ter of life and death.”

Food safety groups ex­pressed dis­may at the Sen­ate’s delay and said they will start to dis­cuss strategy on how to pro­ceed with lob­by­ing.

“We’re dis­cour­aged by the an­nounce­ment, and we’ve got to take it ser­i­ously,” said Robert Guen­ther, seni­or vice pres­id­ent of pub­lic policy for United Fresh, a group that rep­res­ents pro­duce grow­ers.

“We’re go­ing to be look­ing for ways to get the bill passed, but it looks like it’s go­ing to be hard be­fore they leave,” he ad­ded.

A spokes­wo­man for the Sen­ate Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor and Pen­sions Com­mit­tee said HELP Chair­man Tom Har­kin would con­tin­ue to work to pass the bill be­fore the end of the year.

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