A Productive Lame Duck Session?

Posted by | November 18, 2010 11:09 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Yesterday marked the first step forward in what could be an uncharacteristically significant lame duck session of Congress.  By a vote of 74-25, the Senate voted to consider a Food Safety bill which would:

• Attempt to prevent food-borne illnesses from reaching the population by requiring food-processing plants to upgrade the frequency and thoroughness of their safety inspections;

• Require the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department and Agriculture Department to jointly develop a national plan to improve food safety, as well as an HHS requirement for a national system to better prevent problems in the food supply;

• Grant HHS greater authority to order recalls of suspected tainted food;

• Improve inspections of foreign food imported into the United States.

The bill is far from perfect (correcting the dysfunctional food structure where authority is divided between HHS and Agriculture would be a better fix) but these steps will lead to fewer incidents of food poisoning and it will save lives.  If the Senate can pass this, repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (which Reid announced he would bring to the floor), and pass the DREAM Act (also coming to the Floor per Reid), it will cap the most successful Congressional session since the 1960s.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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