S510 Food Power Grab May be Stymied

There is hope for a reprieve from Senate Bill S510, the awful, expensive, bureaucracy-expanding, federal power grab over our food supply. The reason is that the bill contains new fees, which can be regarded as taxes, and the Constitution requires all tax bills to originate in the House of Representatives. John Stanton of Roll Call reports:

By pre-empting the House's tax-writing authority, Senate Democrats appear to have touched off a power struggle with members of their own party in the House. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as "blue slipping" to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides.

The debacle could prove to be a major embarrassment for Senate Democrats, who sought Tuesday to make the relatively unknown bill a major political issue by sending out numerous news releases trumpeting its passage.

There are two possible outcomes here:

The blue slip could lead to one of two likely outcomes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could simply drop the issue and let the next session of Congress start from scratch, a strategy that would allow him time in the lame-duck session to tackle other last-minute priorities, such as the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, a long-term continuing resolution, an immigration bill and a repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members.

Or he could try to force the issue in the Senate after the House passes a new version of the bill. But in order to do that and still tackle the other issues, he would need a unanimous consent agreement to limit debate.

According to Senate GOP aides, a unanimous consent agreement is all but certain to be a nonstarter because the bill's chief opponent, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), will not agree to such a deal.

We are very lucky that this roadblock is regarded as an issue by House Democrats, jealous of their prerogatives. The National Health Federation, a pro-freedom group which opposes the bill, points out:

The FDA already collects fees from drug companies, medical device companies, domestic food companies, and even animal-medicine manufacturing companies.  User-fee legislation has originated in the Senate, in the HELP committee, and its precursor committees.  So, why have these existing fees not been considered to be "unconstitutional" before?  But, this is just basic knowledge of FDA law and the Congressional legislative process.  Only in Washington can the politicians now suddenly be reinterpreting a "fee" as a source of revenue, and, as revenue, therefore a new tax.  But, our philosophy on this issue is "any port in a storm."

The best outcome would be for consideration by the House to be delayed until the new Congress is sworn in. That would allow closer scrutiny by the GOP majority of this expensive enlargement of the federal government, which would put many small agricultural producers out of business, and do nothing to increase the safety of our food supply.

Hat tip: Michael Geer