On March 10, by a vote of 276 to 139, the House passed the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act (H.R. 339), which is designed to prevent class-action lawsuits that try to hold food companies responsible for Americans’ super-sized waistlines.
In the wake of the recent announcement that obesity now rivals tobacco as the nation’s No. 1 preventable cause of death, the House addressed what happens when people do not want to take personal responsibility for their own choices.
In other words, Americans are simply eating themselves to death–by their own free will. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced, “we’re going to do something about it.”
However, the Republican-controlled House decided that “doing something about it” does not include bringing lawsuits against Taco Bell or McDonalds.
“The food industry is our nation’s largest private sector employer, providing jobs to some 12 million Americans. Today, that industry is threatened by an array of legal claims alleging that it should be liable to pay damages for the over-consumption of its legal products by others,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.).
Lawsuits against the food companies pertaining to matters other than weight concerns could still be filed, despite the bill.
Democrats, demonstrating what critics consider their absolute loyalty to the trial lawyer lobby and their philosophical denial of personal responsibility, tried with six different amendments to soften or alter the impact of the bill. They all failed to pass, however.
Rep. Mel Watt (D.-N.C.), indicated that he thought the House should get back to debating matters of “true importance,” as though the well-being of the nation’s largest over all employment industry was not truly important.
Conservatives argued that obesity lawsuits will result in higher prices at restaurants, and that many small business owners will be forced out of business and consequently, jobs will be cut.
Sarcastic comments from liberals concerning the bill were heard throughout the debate. “I suppose just like every other self-serving business lobby in Washington, the fast food industry wants the Republicans to protect them from being responsible,” said liberal Rep. Pete Stark (D.-Calif.).
Republicans remained steadfast in their position that frivolous lawsuits would only drive up the cost of doing business, harming the economy. In addition, “The Big M in the Sky didn’t make you obese; you did,” Rep. Robin Hayes (R.-N.C.) said.
A “yes” vote was a vote in favor of passing the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, barring weight-targeted lawsuits. A “no” vote was one against the bill.
|FOR THE BILL: 276||AGAINST THE BILL: 139|
|REPUBLICANS FOR: 221
Davis, Jo Ann
DEMOCRATS FOR: 55
|REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 1
DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 137
INDEPENDENTS AGAINST: 1
NOT VOTING: 18
|REPUBLICANS (5):||DEMOCRATS (13):||INDEPENDENTS (0)|