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Congressional Republicans Reject Rehberg’s Dangerous Anti-Safety Earmark

Millionaire Congressman indicates he'll keep trying to roll back safety standards

Helena, MT -- House lawmakers from both parties rejected an earmark by millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg that would have stripped common sense safety measures to keep kids from smoking, and to ensure the safety of candy, food and even the blood supply.

But today Rehberg is indicating he'll keep trying to pass his controversial anti-safety earmark.

“Even House Republicans agree Congressman Rehberg’s plan to gut common-sense consumer protections that protect kids' health is too extreme, but that's not stopping him from trying again,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. “This is one more failed attempt at legislating for Congressman Rehberg, and once again his failure is a good thing for Montana. Only Congressman Rehberg can explain why he would support for big tobacco and companies that allow lead in their candy products over Montana's kids, but it's clear that he's interested in what's good for him and not what's best for Montana."

Public health advocates decried Congressman Rehberg’s plan for overturning a bi-partisan measure aimed at reducing child smoking.  Rehberg's earmark would have banned the Food and Drug Administration from using anything but "hard science" in determining new rules, meaning it would no longer be able to regulate additives like menthol to cigarettes, safety standards of candy, and unsafe prescription drugs.

Here are some headlines from national news stories about Congressman Rehberg's controversy:

US NEWS & WORLD REPORT BLOG: Republicans Advance a Gibberish Agenda
“What Rehberg was saying was: Hey everybody, slow it down. We can’t go on making rules like this when we don’t understand the basics. Wheat bread vs. white bread? Green pepper v. Dr. Pepper? Kids should smoke or they shouldn't? Who knows? The science just isn’t there yet.” [6/6/11]

WASHINGTON POST: GOP pushes back on public health measures

“[The Rehberg amendment] would undermine a law that Congress passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support two years ago,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It would undo the one thing that all members of Congress agreed upon, which was to protect kids from tobacco.” [6/1/11]

LA TIMES EDITORIAL: Tobacco regulation: Kneecapping the FDA

“The provisions in Rehberg's amendment are part of the contradiction in our society's attitudes toward tobacco. Cigarettes have no health benefits, and they cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year in Medicaid expenses alone to care for smoking-related illnesses. For all the justifiable concern about obesity, smoking remains the leading cause of premature death in this country. The goal of the original legislation was to reduce the rates of sickness and death from cigarettes, and especially to protect impressionable youngsters. It would be a mistake to back away from that goal now.” [6/5/11]

LOUISVILLE COURRIER-JOURNAL: A new fight over tobacco regulation - “But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a long-time critic of the tobacco industry, and other Democrats said Rehberg was trying to interfere with the FDA’s authority to prevent the tobacco industry from putting ingredients in their products that would appeal to children.

“The Republicans have launched a pernicious assault on the (2009) Tobacco Control Act,” Waxman said. “There is no excuse for disarming FDA and giving the tobacco industry a blank check to continue to market tobacco to children and young adults.”  [6/11/11]