Floor Time Running Out on Food Policy Legislation?

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Advocates for a “pair of Senate bills to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority and fight child obesity are worried that the popular legislation might never reach the Senate floor — despite bipartisan support,” Congressional Quarterly reports.

“We’re running out of time,” said Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Wootan is concerned about legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs such as the popular National School Lunch Program. The programs expire Sept. 30. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved its bill on March 24, while the House Education and Labor Committee introduced its bill on June 10.

Wootan said Congress is likely to approve a simple extension of the programs if lawmakers cannot finish a full reauthorization.

But supporters worry that several provisions would be lost if lawmakers merely extend the current authorization. Those include proposed gains in funding, establishment of higher nutrition standards and policy changes such as agreement among lawmakers, the food and beverage industry and advocacy groups to empower the Agriculture Department to regulate foods in school vending machines.

The other bill:

The other food-related bill with bipartisan support but no announced date for floor action is a food safety measure.

In the latest effort to put the spotlight on the legislation, Safe Tables Our Priority and the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention sent letters to Democratic and Republican staffers. It called for a floor vote this month on the food safety measure that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved in November. The legislation would give the FDA greater regulatory power to police domestic and imported foods.

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