**Update, Update** According to the AFBF policy department, the House will not take up S. 510 because of certain revenue provisions contained in the bill. House leadership has “blue-slipped” the bill, preventing its consideration until the revenue issues are resolved. **Update** Roll Call’s John Stantonis now reporting that the House will assign a new bill number to the Senate’s version of the food safety bill sometime next week. Sen. Tom Harkin said Wednesday that he has spoken with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders and that he hopes the chamber will pass a new version of the bill to send to the Senate before the end of the week.
As Roll Call reported last night, reports of the eminent House passage of the Senate’s food safety bill SB 510 may have been premature.Apparently no one told Sen. Harry Reid about Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution before the Senate passed the measure.
A food safety bill that has burned up precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House. 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 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.
The bill contains a number of fees and other revenue raisers that are technically fees under the Constitution. This has apparently stirred up some bad blood with the House Ways and Means Committee Democrats who now plan on blocking the bill.
Earlier reports in the news media (due no doubt to the massive PR push by Senate democrats to promote the bill) heralded the passage of the Senate version and predicted a swift passage in the House, avoiding a lengthy conference committee to reconcile the bills two versions.
There are now several options for the measure. The House will either block the bill entirely or pass its own version of it. The latter option will mean that Reid will have to hold a vote to reopen debate on the bill, and will need unanimous consent to limit that debate. bringing the measure back to the floor would provide a new chance for opponents to use procedural delaying tactics in the remaining weeks of the 111th Congress. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., stalled action on the bill in September, forcing Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file a motion to limit debate on taking up the legislation.
Even if the House cooperated, the bill could later be challenged in court as being procedurally deficient.