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Senate passes new food police bill: Roll call vote 73-25; Senator Bennet: “It’s all rigged”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 30, 2010 11:20 AM

I mentioned last week that a new Big Foodie bill opposed by a diverse coalition of limited government activists, small family farmers, and left-leaning “locovores” was coming down the pike.

Today, I’m disappointed to tell you, the regulatory expansion bill masquerading as a “safety” measure passed by a large margin — with stomach-turning Republican support.

Here’s the roll call vote.

The 15 power-grabby Republicans who voted for it:

Alexander (R-TN)
Brown (R-MA)
Burr (R-NC)
Collins (R-ME)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Snowe (R-ME)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)

The Senate bill must be reconciled with a version that passed the House of Representatives in 2009 before Congress adjourns for the year.

***

Walter Olson weighs in (be sure to go to his post for all the accompanying background links):

The wider question is whether the bill as a whole, with its massive ramp-up of federal regulation to displace both voluntary market choices and state-level regulation, is a good idea. As I observed to TownHall’s Jillian Bandes, despite the panic atmosphere generated over the issue in recent years, the best evidence is that the incidence of food poisoning continues to fall, not rise; one reason for the greater press coverage of the issue is that science has gotten better at identifying and tracing the sorts of outbreaks that were happening all along. To some who promote a more intensive regulatory state, the resulting “crisis” presents a welcome opportunity, even though, on these advocates’ own terms, the existing array of laws provides ample means by which federal agencies can crack down on food actually shown to pose a hazard.

When the new Congress convenes in January, it will bring to Washington dozens of new lawmakers with more skeptical views about regulation, who may listen with favor to colleagues like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has argued against the pending FSMA as an unjustified power grab. Could that be why Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is determined to force through the bill during the lame duck session? In this case — as with the very bad Paycheck Fairness Act, which Republicans managed to stop earlier this month, and the even more appalling “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act” to force unionization on local public safety workers — it’s almost as if the point of the post-election session is to push controversial measures that would encounter more resistance if held over to the next Congress. Is this really a proper use of the lame duck?

Chris Moody at the Daily Caller reports on a hot mic moment of candor caught on the Senate floor:

A hot mic left on during a Senate vote Tuesday morning on the Food Safety Act caught a senator complaining that process of setting the agenda during the lame-duck session is “rigged.”

“It’s all rigged. The whole conversation is rigged,” a currently unknown member on the Senate floor said. “The fact that we don’t get to a discussion before the break about what we’re going to do in the lame duck . It’s just rigged. ”

The remark was picked up live on C-SPAN 2, although microphones are usually turned down during voting times. An aide quickly realized the mistake, jumped up and had the sound cut off.

So who said it? Sounds a lot like my own Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (last heard dodging Peter Boyles here).

David Freddoso thinks it’s Bennet, too. Chris Moody is checking it out.

Update: Yup, it was Bennet. Gaffetastic!

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