Senate Should Work to Save Families From Higher Grocery Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding bipartisan biotech labeling legislation:

“In the last national election, the American people elected a Republican Senate. Since then, we’ve accomplished a lot of important things for our country.

“Landmark education reform. Permanent tax relief for families and small businesses. Significant action to repair America’s roads and bridges. And just last week, decisive steps to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.

“The Republican Senate has been able to lead on many important issues because we’ve focused on areas where both sides can agree, rather than just fight about issues where we don’t.

“Everyone knows one issue where we don't agree: whether the American people deserve a voice in filling the current Supreme Court vacancy. Republicans think the people deserve a voice in this important vacancy, the President and Senate Democrats don’t.

“Whoever is chosen to fill the Supreme Court vacancy could radically change the direction of the court for a generation. The American people obviously deserve a voice in such an important conversation; they can continue making their voices heard, and we can continue doing our work in the Senate to move America forward on important issues.

“Americans elected this Republican Senate to serve as a check-and-balance to the President.

“It’s natural that both parties will disagree in some areas, it’s natural that we’ll find common ground in others. Let’s keep focused on those areas of common ground.

“For instance, today I hope colleagues across the aisle will join us in working to protect middle-class families from unnecessary and unfair increases in their food and grocery bills.

“Vermont passed food-labeling legislation that will be implemented soon and could increase annual food costs across America by more than a thousand dollars per family. It’s one state’s decision, but it could negatively affect families — especially middle- and lower-income families — in other states. Now we see other states following in Vermont’s footsteps, which could lead to a patchwork of state laws.

“We should work to protect America’s Middle Class from the unfair higher food prices that could result, and that’s just what the Senate is working to do now.

“We know this may be the last chance to stop this economic blow to the Middle Class, but we can’t act if colleagues block us from helping the Middle Class. As our Democratic colleagues know, we are eager to continue working together toward a solution. I would encourage our colleagues across the aisle to work with the bill managers to offer the amendments or alternative proposals they may have.

“The common-sense, bipartisan legislation offered by Chairman Roberts of the Agriculture Committee would set clear, science-based standards in order to prevent families from being unfairly hurt by a patchwork of conflicting state and local labeling laws passed in places where they don’t live.

“This bipartisan bill would help meet consumer interest for information about how food is made, while keeping costs from rising at every level of production.

“It’s earned the support of more than 650 groups nationally, including farmers and small businesses.

“And, as Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner put it, this bipartisan bill would ‘allow for a more efficient flow of food to consumers everywhere and would cut down on production costs.’

“We know this is not a safety or health issue, it’s a market issue. Officials at both the USDA and the FDA – the two agencies charged with ensuring the safety and delivery of our nation’s food supply – have found that there are no health, safety, or nutritional risks associated with bioengineered crops and products. At the same time, we recognize that many families have a desire to know what’s in the food they’re purchasing.

“That’s why the legislation Chairman Roberts is working on would offer incentives for the marketplace to provide more information to consumers while also addressing many of the unintended consequences of a patchwork of state laws. 
I appreciate Senator Roberts’ continued work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to move on a solution this week.

“The Agriculture Committee recently passed the Chairman’s Mark by a bipartisan vote, and the House passed its own legislation last summer. Now it’s time for the full Senate to act so we can protect the Middle Class from higher food costs, and with continued cooperation from across the aisle we can.”

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