The House has produced plenty of horrible legislation recently, but surprisingly, Republican lawmakers' latest hare-brained idea hits an organ a bit higher up than the uterus. It's almost refreshing, if you ignore the horrible gastrointestinal trauma we're in for.
In their zeal to cut budget spending, House Republicans have proposed cutting $87 million in money that goes to the FDA for food safety. The Washington Post reports that this would severely limit the agency's ability to carry out a law passed in December that called for stepping up inspections in light of America's recent problems with food contamination. (One in six Americans get a food-born illness every year.)
The new law called for more inspections at manufacturing plants, better coordination with the state health departments (which the FDA sometimes farms out the task to), and faster responses when contaminated products do make it onto store shelves. The legislation also requires the creation of a system of third-party certifiers to ensure the safety of imported food. To accomplish these tasks, President Obama asked fro $955 million. The House Appropriations subcommittee says the agency should get just $750 million for food safety. Committee chairman Jack Kinston explains, "This subcommittee has begun making some of the tough choices necessary to right the ship."
We've been told that we'll have to tighten our belts to solve the budget crisis, but cutting back on something as important as food safety is dangerous as all hell. It also makes little sense, since the House found there's enough money to fund a program Republicans and Democrats say is a waste: The $200 million Market Access Program, which awards grants to help companies promote our products abroad, was fully funded. The Post reports that last year through this program:
The Cotton Council International, which represents the U.S. cotton industry, received $20.3 million through the program to help fund a popular reality television show in India featuring aspiring fashion designers.
A full House committee is expected to pass the new budget proposal today. There's still hope that the Senate could restore the funding, thus acknowledging that when you come down with a nasty salmonella infection, it's little comfort to know your sacrifice allowed Indian Project Runway to stay on the air.
Food Safety Advocates Decry FDA Cuts [Washington Post]
Image via Mau Horng/Shutterstock.