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It will take 218 votes to be elected Speaker when the House of Representatives meets on Jan. 3. Moussa81GettyImages

Pelosi faces opposition; USDA, FDA team up on cell-cultured meat

Legislative Watch: Democrats want real change in Washington; cell-cultured meat regulation; election update; Wheeler for EPA.

Nancy Pelosi is facing opposition within the Democratic caucus in her efforts to be elected Speaker for the 116th Congress. This week 16 House Democrats released a letter stating they would vote against her when the House votes for a new Speaker on Jan. 3. 

The letter said, “Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise.”

Signing the letter were 11 incumbents, four incoming freshmen and one candidate whose race has not been called. There are three other incumbents or members-elect who did not sign the letter who have stated they will not vote for Pelosi.

It will take 218 votes to be elected Speaker when the House of Representatives meets on Jan. 3. Currently, Democrats have won 233 seats. Thus, Pelosi can only afford to lose 15 votes.

USDA and FDA to jointly regulate cell-cultured meat
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have announced that USDA and FDA will jointly regulate cell-cultured food products from livestock and poultry. FDA will oversee the early stages, cell collection, cell banks, cell growth and definitions. USDA will have jurisdiction of cell harvest, production and labeling of cell-cultured products. 

In a joint statement, Perdue and Gottlieb said, “USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products. Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary.”

This announcement of joint regulation is similar to what the North American Meat Institute and Memphis Meats had proposed in a letter in August to President Trump. 

NAMI said, “We’re pleased the agencies have initiated the steps to work together on regulating cell-based meat products and appreciate the work that USDA Secretary Perdue has put in to ensure USDA’s role in regulating these new products. We look forward to seeing more details on how these plans will be implemented and participating in that process.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said, “This announcement that USDA would have primary jurisdiction over the most important facets of lab-produced fake meat is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly.”

Election update
There are one Senate seat and three House seats to still be decided. The Mississippi Senate run-off election is next Tuesday when Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) faces former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) conceded this week to Gov. Rick Scott (R). Nelson was the fourth Democratic incumbent Senator defeated. There are still three House races, all Republican incumbents, to be decided. They are two in New York and one in California.

Wheeler nominated EPA administrator
President Trump plans to nominate Andrew Wheeler as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. He was confirmed by the Senate as EPA’s deputy administrator in April. Wheeler is currently serving as acting administrator since Scott Pruitt resigned July 9. 

TAGS: Business
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