On Wednesday evening, December 8, the House passed a combined Continuing Resolution-Food Safety bill by a vote of 212-206. All Republicans and 35 Democrats voted no. The Continuing Resolution would fund all government functions for the remainder of the current fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30, 2011. The current short-term Continuing Resolution expires on December 18. The Food Safety bill is nearly identical to the bill the Senate passed last week, with the only differences relating to language about user fees.
The food safety part of the vote is a victory for supporters of small and mid-sized family farms, local and regional food, and conservation. Since the Senate passed its bill, trade associations representing produce industry and agribusiness interests have been hammering away against the Senate compromise package, urging the House to insist on a conference committee with the Senate for the purpose of stripping out small and mid-size farm provisions from the bill. Their effort failed as the House adopted the Senate package intact, with the exception of some relatively minor changes to its user fees. The bill, now packaged with the all-government spending bill, now returns to the Senate for final action.