Constitution Trampled: Food Safety Bill Rushed through Senate

House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Leader Reid are trying to ram as much of their far-left agenda through the Congress as possible during the remaining weeks of the lame duck session. They thought they’d achieved a victory yesterday with a food safety bill (the “FDA Food Safety Management Act”). As The Heritage Foundation noted, this was a $1.4 billion boondoggle of over-regulation aimed at a problem the market is already correcting. The food safety bill passed the Senate yesterday, over the objections of the Senate’s conservatives.

Not so fast, says the Constitution. The Senate version of the food safety bill included new fees that raise revenue.

More: analysis of the Constitutional and political implications of the rushed bill.

US Constitution, Article I, Section 7 states:

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives

The new version of the food safety bill, passed in a rush by the Senate, should have been originated in the House of Representatives. Now, according to Roll Call’s interviews with House and Senate aids, the resulting Constitutional power struggle will probably kill the bill:

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 situation presents two troubling issues that will plague the lame duck session and Harry Reid’s Senate.

Sound policy is getting lost in the rush to “get things done.” Thus instead of acting on the pending Obama tax hikes or spurring private sector job creation, the Senate spent days of precious floor time on an ill-fated, harmful bill. Political grandstanding de-legitimizes the Senate’s legislative role.

This is the second time that Harry Reid’s Senate has mistakenly originated revenue raising provisions. The previous attempt was related to a tourism bill that Reid deemed essential to Nevada’s economy. Valuing politics over Constitutional process is a reckless path. In the 112th Congress, Members of the House should push for sound policy and process to stop liberal overreach.

Please Share Your Thoughts