Food Safety: Your Sole Designated Christmas Miracle This Year

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 20 2010 9:50 AM

Food Safety: Your Sole Designated Christmas Miracle This Year

Twenty-four hours ago, the food safety bill was dead because Democrats fumbled it , put it into the omnibus bill, then fumbled that. The conventional wisdom was that it would stay dead, because the odds of attaching it to the continuing resolution were nil, and because some Republicans -- particularly Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) -- had hinted that they would force debate the bill if it came up.

And then this happened.

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After a weekend of negotiations, tense strategy sessions and several premature predictions about the bill's demise, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) reached a deal with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the GOP would not filibuster.

Without notice and in a matter of minutes Sunday evening, the Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to the House, where passage is expected.

Last night, I checked in with the staff of the Republicans who were expected to be impediments to the bill. Nobody knew why their bosses had let it sail through. The best theory I've heard is that key Republicans, having seen the bill pass with supermajority support (73-25), and having become satisfied that there were no back-door nanny provisions in the bill, decided that it wasn't worth keeping the Senate in session past Christmas to debate it. It's a Christmas miracle, if the key characteristics of Christmas are self-interest and fatigue.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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