● Greg Walden (R/Oregon) should be happy today. The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee sheparded his flock of candidates to a significant national victory in yesterday’s mid-term election. However, the delegation from the Pacific Northwest did manage to stand pat, with the only change being in the 4th District of Washington, where Dan Newhouse has the overnight lead over fellow Republican Clint Didier.
● How does Pacific Northwest capital clout stand now that Republicans have won the U.S. Senate? Washington state loses Senator Patty Murray’s chairmanship of the Senate’s Budget Committee; Oregon loses Senator Ron Wyden’s chairmanship of the Finance Committee; Idaho stands to gain with its two Republican senators in the new majority–the easily re-elected Jim Risch and Mike Crapo.
● Issues watch for the new Congress: Trade agreements may move forward; all new federal regulations will come under greater scrutiny; FDA will seek in vain for additional funds to implement FSMA, the new food safety law; comprehensive immigration reform is unlikely especially if the President, as he promised prior to the election, uses unilateral executive authority to deal with this seemingly intractable problem; and, generally, little significant progress in enacting major legislation.
● GMO labeling was on the ballot in Oregon as Prop 92 and this heavily-funded state election issue seems still too close to call. In the 114th Congress, you can expect to see a revitalized effort at the federal level by food manufacturers and other agricultural interests for a bill setting out national rules for the voluntary labeling at retail of genetically engineered foods.
● David Rubenstein did a nice thing for our country last week. He announced that he is giving a $10 million gift of his own money to help restore Montpelier, the home in Virginia of President James Madison. A few years ago he paid half the cost of repairing the Washington Monument, after it was damaged by an earthquake. Mr. Rubenstein once worked on Capitol Hill as a committee staffer and then at President Carter’s White House. Afterwards he made his fortune as a founding partner of the private equity firm, The Carlyle Group. I think this $10 million was much better spent than had he dumped it into some random and transitory political campaign.
● I plan to travel to College Park, Maryland, to attend a public meeting on Thursday, November 13, hosted by FDA on revisions it has made to proposed regulations aimed at implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. College Park, essentially a suburb of Washington, D.C., is the site of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.