|Congressional dysfunction did it again. A few Democratic and Republican members of Congress made back-room deals, and now your elected officials will only get an up or down vote on whether or not to keep the government open for another year.Our policy staff just finished combing through the 2,000-page omnibus appropriations bill that Congress must pass this week to keep the government running, and here’s how some of the key issues that impact our food and water fared.
Let’s start with some good news:
1. We stopped the Monsanto rider that would prohibit states from labeling genetically engineered foods (a.k.a. the DARK act). After thousands of phone calls and letters from people like you, legislators didn’t include it in the appropriations bill.
2. An amendment to label genetically engineered salmon was included. We’ll still be working to stop the introduction of GMO salmon in our food system, but this is an important step.
3. The attempt to overturn our national parks’ ability to ban bottled water did not make it into the final bill. Thank you to all of our supporters who took action on this issue!
4. We kept important food safety measures in the final bill including full funding to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, increased funding for meat and poultry inspection, a ban on the purchase of chicken processed in China in school lunches and limits on the beef imports that may have been exposed to foot and mouth disease.
Now the bad news:
1. The 40-year ban on exporting crude oil is being removed. This fossil fuel industry giveaway happened despite massive opposition from everyone involved in fighting climate change and working for a renewable energy future.
2. Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for beef and pork is being repealed despite massive consumer and farmer outcry about the importance of these labels for our everyday decision making.
Unfortunately because these deals were made behind closed doors and Congress didn’t follow the normal appropriations process, your members of Congress will only get a single up or down vote on the entire 2,000-page bill that includes these and many other amendments that affect a whole range of issues. It’s likely that this bill will pass this week to avoid a government shutdown, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop working to protect your food and water.
We will need to redouble our efforts in the new Congress in January to reinstate country of origin labeling and the crude oil export ban, because our future depends on it. And even our wins are only temporary in this era of corporate influence. We expect the DARK Act and other attempts to take away our right to know what’s in our food to be on the congressional agenda first thing in 2016.