Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why Does Roy Blunt Hate America?

The House Majority Whip supports a bill that would keep states from adding food warning labels that go beyond federal rules. Blunt's lobbyist wife is being paid to lobby for the bill.

From the Associated Press:

The lawmakers have family, friends and former staff among the lobbyists for the bill.

"This helps explain why the food industry has blocked any efforts to have hearings," said Ben Cohen, attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog group.

"They think they've got it greased by using well-connected lobbyists to slip this thing through the full House without following the normal procedures," Cohen said.

State warnings alert consumers to mercury in fish, arsenic in bottled water, pesticides in vegetables and many other potential problems. The food industry wants consistent warnings across state lines. The bill would let states petition the federal government if they want to add extra warnings.

According to reports filed with Congress, the bill's lobbyists include Blunt's wife, Abigail, who works for Altria, parent of Kraft Foods. They also include former Boehner staffers Mason Wiggins, lobbyist for the Food Products Association, an industry group, and Brenda Reese, lobbyist for the American Beverage Association.

Also listed is Brad Card, brother of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and former top aide to Rep. John Sweeney (news, bio, voting record), R-N.Y. Brad Card has lobbied on food labeling issues for the Food Products Association. The association is headed by a former congressman, Democrat Cal Dooley of California.

"It's a perfect storm of insider access, big money and bad policy," said Andy Igrejas of the Washington-based National Environmental Trust, which did the lobbying research. "They're sweeping away 200 state laws without a hearing, all because very wealthy interests want them to."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent the bill to the floor without a hearing. The bill has broad support and is expected to win House approval later in the week. Supporters expect a Senate version of the bill to be introduced soon.

Republicans are trying to paint this story as one benefitting all states.
"The reason the bill has moved swiftly is that a pregnant woman buying peas on a shelf in Michigan has the same right to food safety information as a pregnant woman buying peas in California," [Rep. Mike] Rogers [R-Mich] said.

Riiiiiiiiggghhhttt. Let's eliminate food warning labels to protect pregnant women. Rather than a bill which prevents states from adding warnings that go beyond federal rules, wouldn't a better bill be one that requires those additional warning labels in all states?