Food Safety Bill Runs Afoul of the Constitution, But Not In the Way You Think

The lame duck Congress has been hustling to get new food safety regulations in place before flying south (and north and east and west) for the winter. But the version passed by the Senate this week seems to have run afoul of a pesky little constitutional provision.

And what is the objection that has brought the process to a halt? It's not concerns about big companies shutting out smaller local competitors. Nor is it debate about whether the new rules will actually make us safer, as Ron Bailey ruefully notes.

Nope. As devoted Congress-watchers know, the only instance in which you can consistently rely on our elected representatives to stand up for the Constitution is when their own privileges are threatened:

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 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....

This is not the first time that Reid has run afoul of the Constitution’s tax origination provisions. His efforts to pass a tourism promotion bill that was key to his re-election hopes was temporarily stymied earlier this year because the Senate passed a version with revenue raisers similar to those in the food safety bill.

At The New York Times, they're calling this an "arcane parlimentary mistake," but Reid's two-part pattern of playing fast and loose suggests there may be more serious issues at stake. Either way, the debate will now be about parliamentary procedure and not whether the bill is yet another example of harmful meddling and/or congressional overreach.

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  • ||

    So that's what they do with all those tiny condoms: put them on produce. I lernd something new today.

  • Wind Rider||

    Nah, this is only a minor impediment to Nancy's Zombies™

    They'll calim it was their idea all along, and deem it passed, them cackle their way into oblivion accompanied by the creaking and groaning of the expanding federal bureaucracy.

    I'm beginning to think that the first major action of a coming American Civil War will be fought between competing federal agencies over who gets dibs on stripping the corpses of the American public.

  • Steve||

    This is not the first time that Reid has run afoul of the Constitution...

    Well no S*&@!

  • Skid Marx||

    “Apples, oranges, and bananas don't mate.”

    - Nancy Pelosi

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Here's hoping she doesn't either. Yeesh.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Am I senile? Am I senile?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Article I, Section 7: "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives."

    "arcane parliamentary mistake", huh?

    Fucking NYT.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Also, the title is GOP blocks bill not The GOP isnt in control!

  • ||

    Well, the GOP is presumably blocking the suspension of the rules that would allow the House to write their own identical bill, pass it, and then have the Senate pass that bill.

  • ||

    Yes, I do believe the NYT just called the Constitution an "arcane parliamentary mistake."

    Which is pretty much what the Living Constitutionalists are saying, too, if you think about it.

  • ||

    Yeppers. Missed your comment, but I apparently agree [points below].

  • ||

    No, no, no. That's what they call the Constitution. An arcane parliamentary mistake.

  • Tuscadero||

    precious days of the Senate’s lame-duck session

    America has officially jumped the shark.

  • Rich||

    This is not the first time that Reid has run afoul of the Constitution’s tax origination provisions.

    Mere mortals get fired for repeatedly violating fundamental rules of the job.

  • ||

    And they called Angle crazy.

  • ||

    Meddling and overreach??? That horse left the barn many, many moons ago. Anyone who think it will ever reigned in is a fool.

  • ||

    Left out a couple of words, but you get the gist.

  • Tes||

    from obstructionism to blackmail to ransom...Bravo

    Reason, Shmeason


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