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Senate Advances on Food Safety Bill, Blocked on Paycheck Fairness

Way back in September, the Senate filed cloture on three bills that would be taken up at the beginning of the lame duck session. Of those three, Harry Reid postponed the cloture vote on a electric vehicles/natural gas bill, seemingly because Tom Harkin wanted to hijack it to add ethanol funding, and also to get some Republicans on board.

That left two bills. On the Paycheck Fairness Act, a companion to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would have set limits on employers defending wage discrimination in court based on gender. But the bill only got 58 votes for cloture on the motion to proceed, which in Senate math is a loss. It’s kind of a fitting bookend to the Lily Ledbetter bill, which was the first President Obama signed into law. Now they can’t even get something along the same lines passed. Here’s Harry Reid’s response:

“Apparently, my Republican colleagues would rather continue giving tax breaks to CEOs who ship American jobs overseas than ensure that women in Nevada and across the nation are paid the same as men for doing the same work. Senate Republicans had their latest opportunity to do the right thing, work with Democrats to reduce wage inequality for women, and help the American families they support. This was a prime opportunity to enact the kind of common-sense, bipartisan solutions to our economic problems that the American people are demanding, but Republicans spurned it.

“Democrats are eager to work with Republicans to address our shared challenges, but compromise is a two-way street. I am hopeful that moving forward, Republicans put partisanship aside and focus on doing what’s right and fair for the American people.”

So that left the food safety bill. Where Democrats and Republicans did work together to address our shared challenges! Huzzah! By a 74-25 vote, the Senate agreed to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed. And there was much rejoicing.

The Wall Street Journal had a story on the food safety bill today. There would still be some amendments voted on, but the Senate could wrap up the bill by the end of the week. It would have to go back to the House, or somehow reconciled in both chambers, before moving to the President. The bill gives more authority to the FDA to make recalls of food products, and more funding for inspections, paid for by the food industry.

At least Democrats and Republicans can (mostly) come together in opposition to salmonella in your mushroom omelette.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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