Senator Coburn disputes ‘obstruction’ of food safety bill

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Safety modernization act Food safety modernization United states senate Democratic party

Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) has called for the Food Safety Modernization Act to be brought to the floor for “a full and open debate” after Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) accused him and other Republicans of obstructing the bill.

Supporters of the Food Safety Modernization Act have been pushing to get the bill on the Senate’s agenda as soon as possible, particularly in the wake of the nationwide egg recall that has sickened at least 1,500 people. They claim that the bill is necessary to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), giving it authority to order recalls, and requiring better recordkeeping from food manufacturing facilities.

But last week, Coburn questioned how the bill would be funded, among a raft of other concerns, in a document published on his website.

In response, Senate majority leader Reid said in a statement: “In light of recent events like the egg recall in Iowa, it is unconscionable that Senator Coburn and his Republican colleagues are putting politics ahead of a common-sense, bipartisan bill to ensure that the food products our families consume everyday are safe.

"I suspect that Sen. Coburn's constituents in Oklahoma would be as outraged as the people I represent in Nevada at the prospect that partisan political maneuvering would cause parents to have to start worrying about the safety of the food they feed their families."

However, Coburn has disputed Reid’s comments, saying in a statement: “His claim that I am blocking the Senate from considering the bill is false, and he knows it is false…With our national debt at $13.5 trillion we simply can’t continue to borrow and spend without restraint…If the Majority Leader wants the bill to advance he should pay for it.”

The bill has been stalled in the Senate since it passed unanimously through Committee in November. A companion bill, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, passed the House more than a year ago last July.

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