In one of the first votes of the lame-duck session of Congress, a number of Senate Republicans crossed the aisle to allow debate to move forward on a bill to strengthen the nation's food safety laws.
Described by supporters as the most extensive change in the nation's food safety laws since the 1940s, the bill would also strengthen the enforcement powers of the Food and Drug Administration and give the federal government new powers to monitor measures by food companies to prevent food contamination.
The vote to end a filibuster and proceed to debate on the measure passed by a 74-25 vote, well above the three-fifths majority hurdle of 60 votes. Top Senate Democrats before the vote were uncertain whether they would garner the support to move ahead.
The bill was reported out of committee nearly a year ago, and some Republicans blamed the majority Democrats for failing to move the measure earlier.
Republicans held firm on a second test vote Tuesday, blocking a bid to move forward on a "paycheck fairness" bill that would have expanded the Equal Pay Act to improve protections for women workers against wage discrimination.
The vote was 58-41 — two short of the supermajority needed to break the filibuster.
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