Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Tuesday he hopes to pass pending food safety legislation and the child nutrition reauthorization, two major food bills, before August recess. 
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the primary sponsor of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which was unanimously voted out of committee in November, told POLITICO’s Pulse yesterday he feels better about the bill’s prospects “than I have in a long time.”

The food safety bill has lost steam in the Senate, as Food Safety News recently reported, there are currently three challenges for the legislation: time, bisphenol-A (BPA) politics, and small farmer concerns.

Several media outlets recently reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) insistence on adding controversial language to ban the use of BPA in food and drink containers is the primary holdup for the legislation.

Durbin told POLITICO’s Pulse yesterday, however, he doesn’t think BPA will be a problem, adding that he believes the bill will have bipartisan support.

“We’re ready,” he said. “We’re talking to her; we’re talking about the amendment, and I hope we can work something out.”

Feinstein’s office says she’s still working with Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and ranking member Mike Enzi (R-WY) on a compromise.

Many insiders believe that if the bill were given a timeline for getting to floor, the final details would be ironed out and compromises would be reached.

Reid also said Tuesday he would like to move on the child nutrition reauthorization bill, which would raise the reimbursement rate for school lunch, make way for taking junk food and soda out of vending machines and snack bars, launch farm-to-school pilots, and expand school breakfast programs.

“It would be nice if we could do something with child nutrition–we’re going to try to do that,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “I’m told that that could be bipartisan.”

The one-year extension on the current child nutrition bill expires

September 30. The Senate is scheduled to begin a month-long recess August 9.

  • Doc Mudd

    “…there are currently three challenges for the legislation: time, bisphenol-A (BPA) politics, and small farmer concerns.”
    None of which need be insurmountable obstacles.
    If time is short (and it is), then buckle down and get on with it.
    If BPA is an issue (and it is), move BPA into it’s own political arena with a bill of it’s own
    If ‘small farmers’ cannot support safe food (and apparently they can’t), then stop supporting ‘small farmers’ – ignore them if they insist on ignoring public safety.
    Pass S.510 and usher the American food system into the 21st Century. Finally.

  • dangeramaus

    Ding-Dong the bill is dead! Start over with a bill that isn’t written for and by the special interests, and is aimed at getting more nutritious food into people. And don’t try to regulate small farms at the Federal level.
    And stop using scare tactics to pass legislation.