Thursday, March 09, 2006


Having her unlabeled cake and eating it, too

It seems Sue Kelly sponsored a bill before she voted against it. (can you say, "Flip, Flop?")

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's begin with yet another awful bill brought to the floor of the House that passed at the behest of the large food packaging and producing companies. (Nothing new to that part of the story.)

Last evening, something called the National Uniformity for Food Act passed the House and is now on its way to the Senate. Now, I don't need to tell you that the bill doesn't really have anything to do with uniformity for food, do I? Let's see what the AP has to say bout this two-faced piece of legislation:

The House voted Wednesday to strip many warnings from food labels, potentially affecting alerts about arsenic in bottled water, lead in candy and allergy-causing sulfites, among others.

Pushed by food companies seeking uniform labels across state lines, the bill would prevent states from adding food warnings that go beyond federal law. States could petition the Food and Drug Administration to add extra warnings, under the bill.


The government would spend at least $100 million to answer petitions for tougher state rules, according to CBO.


About a dozen states have safety and labeling rules for fish. In California, white signs with "WARNING" in red letters tells grocery shoppers about high mercury levels in certain fish. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., displayed the placard during debate Wednesday on the House floor.

Eshoo noted the bill's supporters have personal ties to food industry lobbyists.

"This is not about consumers. This is about special interests," she said.

Okay, a disingenuous piece of legislation that in the name of uniformity wants to hand all labeling decisions to the FDA. The bill backers' real reason is that it's easier to put political pressure on a single federal FDA panel (especially if the panel consists of political cronies and industry leaders as has been this administration's MO recently) and receive favorable rulings than it is to do the same with 50 different state panels.

Where does our Congresswoman stand on the bill? Well, Sue Kelly is dancing a sweet little tango on this one.

Predictably, Sue Kelly was one of the co-sponsors of this bill. Okay, that makes sense. Where there's a bill that supports big business over people, Sue is usually right there on the front lines next to Tom Delay and Dennis Hastert. In order to get some Democratic backing on this bill, she voted for an amendment that would have allowed the warnings for mercury in fish to be exempted from the measure. Alright, nothing weird so far.

But, WAIT. Is there a blizzard warning in hell? Sue voted AGAINST this bill...a bill she co-sponsored?

Now, we aren't arguing with her final vote. We were against this bill and never would have co-sponsored it in the first place. This bill is an attack on consumers' right to know what they are eating and, frankly, it's an attempt to destroy the most effective labeling program in the world. BUT...Sue's actions leave us confused and one has to ask Sue:

"Why did you cast a vote against a bill you co-sponsored and brought to the floor of the House... a bill that was virtually unchanged since it was introduced (by you and others) and a bill to which you offered no amendments?"

Something is fishy about this, and unfortunately, we might need a warning label to tell us what's behind her actions.

Calls to Sue Kelly's office in Washington asking for an explaination have gone unreturned, so we are left to speculate. One can assume the change of heart can be explained one of two ways:

1). After long , hard consideration and maybe actually reading the bill (rare these days for Congressfolk as the far-right majority has suspended the three day waiting period between the introduction of a bill and the actual vote so members or staff could read what they are voting on), Congresscritter Kelly decided after long sleepless nights that she was wrong to co-sponsor the bill and has decided to finally stand up for what is right for the people of 19th District and vote NO.


2). In a cynical political move to help her in a tight re-election race back home, she waited until she saw the bill was safe for passage and then got permission from her right-wing leadership to vote NO, hoping no one would notice that she was actually a co-sponsor of the bill and call her on it.

We'll let you decide.

Sue was one of 9 members of congress who were among the 226 co-sponsors of the bill who eventually voted against it. Of the nine only 4 were Republicans. Congresspeople Mark "don't ask me if I'm gay" Foley (FL-16 CD), Walter "I've changed my mind about Iraq" Jones (NC-3 CD), Chris "I've got a hell of a fight coming up as a Republican in this Blue state" Shays (CT-4 CD) and our own Sue "sockpuppet" Kelly (NY-19 CD) were the last minute "I've found the light" Republicans who voted against the bill they co-sponsored only after it was assured passage.
NYBri--is it time to follow the money on this ugly bit of legislation? Who knows what kind of Conagra types we'll find on Sue's PACked list of contributors.

The short answer is, "yes." It's being done as I type.
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