GOP Blocks Merkley Amendment to Repeal the Monsanto Protection Act

GOP Blocks Merkley Amendment to Repeal the Monsanto Protection Act

Greetings-

Today, after his unanimous consent request for a vote on his amendment to the farm bill that would repeal the “Monsanto Protection Act” was blocked by a member of the minority party, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley made the following remarks on the floor.

“MR. PRESIDENT, I REGRET THAT WE'VE HEARD AN OBJECTION ON PULLING UP THIS AMENDMENT. MANY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND THAT TO PULL UP AN AMENDMENT TO BE CONSIDERED HERE IN THE SENATE, IT TAKES UNANIMOUS CONSENT. ALL 100 SENATORS HAVE TO AGREE. MY COLLEAGUE HAS JUST OBJECTED, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO CONSIDER AN AMENDMENT THAT SHOULD BE DEBATED HERE ON THE FLOOR OF THIS HOUSE, BECAUSE THIS AMENDMENT IS ABOUT GOOD POLICY AND GOOD PROCESS.

“NOT SO LONG AGO IN THE CONTINUING RESOLUTION A PROVISION WAS SLIPPED IN BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND BECAUSE THIS WAS A MUST-PASS BILL UNDER TIGHT TIME CONSTRAINTS, IT ALSO SLIPPED THROUGH THE U.S. SENATE WITH NO DEBATE. 

“AND WHAT DID THIS LEGISLATION DO? THIS LEGISLATION, THE MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT, THIS LEGISLATION DOES SOMETHING THAT I THINK MOST WOULD FIND ASTOUNDING. IT ALLOWS THE UNRESTRICTED SALE AND PLANNING OF NEW VARIANTS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS THAT A COURT HAS RULED HAVE NOT BEEN PROPERLY EXAMINED FOR THEIR EFFECT ON OTHER FARMERS, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND HUMAN HEALTH. NOW OBVIOUSLY THIS RAISES A LOT OF CONCERNS ABOUT THE IMPACT ON FARMERS AND THE IMPACT ON HUMAN HEALTH. 

“BUT THERE'S EVEN MORE. THE FACT THAT THE ACT INSTRUCTS SEED PRODUCERS TO IGNORE A RULING OF THE COURT IS EQUALLY TROUBLING. IT RAISES PROFOUND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONAL SEPARATION OF POWERS AND THE ABILITY OF OUR COURTS TO HOLD AGENCIES ACCOUNTABLE TO THE LAW AND THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES. I CAN TELL YOU THAT THIS PROCESS AND THIS POLICY HAS PROVOKED OUTRAGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY. 

“WHEN I HELD TOWN HALLS OUT IN OREGON AFTER THIS HAPPENED, EVERY TOWN HALL, IT WAS RAISED BY FARMERS CONCERNED THAT THIS WOULD ENDANGER THE CROPS THEY'RE GROWING AND HOPE TO EXPORT OVERSEAS. AND I RECEIVED OVER 2,200 LETTERS ON THIS TOPIC. SO I DO HOPE -- I AM-- I'M HOPEFUL THAT WHEN WE COME BACK NEXT WEEK WE CAN HAVE AFULL DEBATE ON THIS AMENDMENT, THAT IT WON'T BE OBJECTED TO AND THAT CERTAINLY THERE WILL BE NO OPPORTUNITY OF ANY KIND FOR THIS POLICY TO BE EXTENDED BECAUSE IT HURTS A PROCESS OF HOLDING OUR DEPARTMENTS ACCOUNTABLE FOR ENFORCING THE LAW AND IT PROVIDES A POLICY OF OVERRIDING A COURT ORDER DESIGNED TO PROTECT OTHER FARMERS, TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND TO PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH. AND THAT'S ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.”

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“MR. PRESIDENT, I REGRET THAT WE'VE HEARD AN OBJECTION ON PULLING UP THIS AMENDMENT. MANY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND THAT TO PULL UP AN AMENDMENT TO BE CONSIDERED HERE IN THE SENATE, IT TAKES UNANIMOUS CONSENT. ALL 100 SENATORS HAVE TO AGREE. MY COLLEAGUE HAS JUST OBJECTED, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO CONSIDER AN AMENDMENT THAT SHOULD BE DEBATED HERE ON THE FLOOR OF THIS HOUSE, BECAUSE THIS AMENDMENT IS ABOUT GOOD POLICY AND GOOD PROCESS.