It's bad enough that the Democrats and Republicans can't agree on any legislation, but now the Democrats can't even agree with each other. The $1.4 billion food safety bill that burned up precious days of the Senate's lame-duck session appears headed back to the chamber because Democrats violated a constitutional provision requiring that tax provisions originate in the House, reports Roll Call.
The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to the House, but House Democrats are expected to use a procedure known as "blue slipping" to block the bill, according to House and Senate GOP aides, and it could prove to be embarrassing for Senate Democrats. Section 107 of the bill includes fees that are classified as revenue raisers, which are technically taxes under the Constitution. According to a House GOP leadership aide, that section has ruffled the feathers of Ways and Means Committee Democrats, who are expected to use the blue slip process to block completion of the bill.
The blue slip could lead to one of two likely outcomes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could drop the issue and let the next session of Congress start from scratch, a strategy that would allow him time in the lame-duck session to tackle other last-minute priorities, such as the expiring 2001and 2003 tax cuts, a long-term continuing resolution, an immigration bill and a repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Or he could try to force the issue in the Senate after the House passes a new version of the bill. But in order to do that and still tackle the other issues, he would need a unanimous consent agreement to limit debate. According to Senate GOP aides, a unanimous consent agreement is unlikely because the bill's chief opponent, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), will not agree to such a deal.
So, although some type of arrangement still might be reached to pass the bill - which has the support of several industry groups - its passage could be complicated by a pledge by Republican Senators Wednesday to block all Democrat-backed legislation not related to tax cuts or spending reduction during the lame duck session.
Jon Stewart of The Daily Show tackled the food safety issue and the incredible Congressional bungling. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.