Here’s proof that the political process can work: Capitol Hill is talking about what ANH-USA supporters have been able to accomplish with the dietary supplement and food safety bills. But there’s much more work to be done.
A seasoned Capitol Hill observer said this past week, “It was ANH-USA supporters who stopped the anti-supplement McCain bill.” You also saw to it that the Codex provision of the Senate Food Safety Bill was amended and that Waxman FTC Power Expansion Provision was kept out of the Finance Reform bill. Now, working together, we have gotten the Leahy bill amended in a very important way—it will no longer be possible to use the bill’s language to send a supplement producer to jail for ten years just for citing some legitimate science. That’s a big improvement.
Even so, the Leahy bill needs to be amended further—it’s still a bad bill. We have been in contact with Senator Leahy’s office and are working through what should be removed and included in the Food Accountability Act, so that the real perpetrators of foodborne illnesses and crimes can be prosecuted without giving the FDA a green light to go after completely innocent food and supplement producers.
You may have read elsewhere that both the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) and Leahy’s bill have been “stopped.” That is incorrect. The Food Safety bill is definitely a priority for the Senate—it’s third on their list of bills they want to consider—and the only question is whether they can get to it and meld it with the very bad House bill before this Congress expires. Congress has just adjourned, and its members are headed back home to campaign. When they return on November 15, they will have only a short time—called a “lame duck” session”—to pass whatever bills they can before the new Congress is sworn in on January 3.
One red flag: Congress will need to approve a massive omnibus funding bill before the end of the year to keep the government running. And it is commonplace for smaller bills to be tacked on as riders totally unrelated to government funding. Because the spending bill has to be passed, lawmakers sometimes sneak in controversial bills that might be defeated if they were considered separately. So we have to be very watchful.
Since Congress is not in session and there is no one in DC reading constituent mail, we’re not asking you to send any more Action Alert messages to the Senate for the time being. But get ready and mark November 15 on your calendar for when Congress comes back to town. We’ll be sure to ask you to take further action with Congress then.