A House committee hearing on salmonella and the recent egg recall deteriorated at times into a partisan sniping match over a long-pending food safety bill that has stalled in the Senate.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) During opening statements, Democrats referred several times to the bill, saying the problem is Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, who has said the bill is unfair to small producers. Coburn says he will block it if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) tries to push it through on unanimous consent, an abbreviated process.
Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts castigated Republicans for letting the bill stall, saying they are “leaving the corporate fox in charge of the henhouse.” It was one of many egg and chicken related puns from Markey.
But Texas Republican Rep. Mike Burgess wasn’t laughing.
He used part of his opening statement to try to insert a defense of Coburn into the record, saying the Oklahoma senator “is not blocking this bill” and Reid is the one at fault. Burgess, who actually supports the food-safety bill, criticized a remark by Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) that “one senator, a lone senator” was holding up the bill.
The two sides then fought about whether Burgess’s remarks could be put in the record. Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.), chairman of the subcommittee holding the hearing, said Burgess would have to submit it later.