John Dingell came up six or seven votes short today, and failed to get food safety reform legislation passed through Congress.
Dingell, the once powerful Michigan Democrat who lost his chairmanship of the Energy & Commerce Committee before the start of the 111th Congress, fell just short of getting the necessary two-thirds majority vote to suspend the rules and adopt H.R. 2749 as amended.
The House voted 280 in favor and 150 against suspending the rules and passing H.R. 2749. Twenty-three Democrats voted with 127 Republicans to deny Dingell the two-thirds majority vote required under the rules. Fifty Republicans voted for the bill that Dingell had carefully crafted with help with Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton.
While the proponents of the food safety legislation dominated the floor debate that stretched into a second hour, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R- Ohio, compared the late number of rewrites of the food safety legislation filed with the House Clerk as repeating the bad behavior on the part of the Majority that was used to get the stimulus bill passed. "Did anyone read this bill?" Boehner asked.
"What our Minority Leader said is true," Barton said, " but it is not, as Paul Harvey use to say, the rest of the story. Those different bills have been introduced as a result of changes I’ve asked for."
Barton seemed to be pleading with his Republican colleagues by saying : "In this bill, in this case…we have had an open bipartisan process."
House Agriculture Committee members acknowledged Dingell had consulted them and make changes in the bill, such as exempting feed grains and livestock; but they complained it was outside the regular process.