A major food safety bill that had almost been given up for dead was suddenly revived in the Senate late on Sunday evening, and may be ready for House approval as early as Tuesday.
In a parliamentary move laid out on the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just after 7pm, the Senate took the food safety language that was passed as part of a stop-gap budget plan by the House, attached it to another House-passed bill and approved that by unanimous consent.
A Democratic Senate aide told me that Republicans did not object to the plan, even though the bill has garnered fierce opposition in some GOP quarters.
The move was a surprise, as it seemed like the Food Safety bill was going to die in the waning days of this year, despite strong support in both the House and Senate.
The bill almost went down the drain originally because of an elementary mistake by Senate Democrats, who added revenue provisions to a measure that originated in the Senate, despite the Constitutional requirement that all spending and revenue bills start in the House.
The House refused to act directly on that legislation, because of what’s known as a “blue slip” problem.
That problem was solved when the House approved its long-term Continuing Resolution last week, which included the language of the Senate-passed food safety bill.
As reported above, the Senate on Sunday night simply took the revised food safety language that was approved by the House in the CR, substitued it to the language of HR 2751, one of the original “Cash for Clunkers” bills from last year, and approved it by unanimous consent.
That move will fix any Constitutional issues, because the plan originated in the House as part of the CR, and by using a bill that was already approved by the House, the Cash for Clunkers bill.
Before you start screaming about that – the food safety language replaces the Cash for Clunkers language in the amended version of HR 2751.
I was told that the food safety bill should be up for a vote as soon as Tuesday in the House.