Congressional Roundup: Johnson aims for national consistency in pesticide labeling
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, attends a February 2023 congressional committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Rep. Dusty Johnson/Twitter)
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, and Jim Costa, D-California, have introduced a bill that would prevent states such as California from putting their own labels on pesticides and herbicides.
In a news release, Johnson said “political agendas” in certain states, such as California, have driven labeling decisions that are unsupported by scientific evidence.
This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.
Johnson emphasized the need for labeling standards grounded in what he called sound science, rather than unfounded claims that may instill fear in consumers. The proposed legislation would establish a single national standard for pesticide labeling to avoid inconsistencies.
Several agricultural organizations expressed support for the bill, according to the news release, including the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association. The groups say an inconsistent patchwork of state or local labels could restrict growers’ access to pesticides and herbicides.
Under current law, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act governs the use, sale, and labeling of pesticides. States have the power to regulate the sale or use of pesticides, but they are prohibited from imposing their own labeling requirements that differ from the EPA, according to the press release. Despite the EPA’s explicit authority, some states have implemented additional labeling requirements beyond the EPA-approved labels.
The press release from Johnson cites an example of California’s application of a warning label to glyphosate, despite the EPA calling it safe.
Bipartisanship for Medicare recipients
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, is leading a bipartisan group of lawmakers who want the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expedite improvements to the delivery of care to seniors on Medicare.
The CMS proposal would:
- Make it easier for Medicare Advantage plan managers to use electronic approval instead of paperwork.
- Speed up decisions about whether a treatment or service is approved.
- Decrease paperwork and other tasks for health care providers and health plans.
- Share more information about what’s needed for approval and why certain decisions are made.
- Add more safeguards for patients.
“We urge CMS to promptly finalize and implement these changes to increase transparency and improve the prior authorization process for patients, providers, and health plans,” wrote the 61 senators and 233 members of the House of Representatives in a letter.
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CCP shipping software, military spending
Rep. Johnson added a provision to the proposed 2024 military budget that prohibits a Chinese Communist Party-owned shipping platform from being used at U.S. ports.
The CCP software, LOGINK, is used at various ports around the world and provides extensive information about global shipping container flows.
“More than 90% of traded goods are carried through ocean shipping,” Johnson said in a news release. “LOGINK provides massive amounts of monitoring, data, and logistics infrastructure to the CCP. It’s imperative we keep LOGINK out of American ports. China already competes unfairly in the global shipping arena. Blocking their access to American port data is one small step to keep this advantage to a minimum.”
The broader bill to which Johnson’s amendment is attached, the National Defense Authorization Act, awaits a vote on the House floor.
In March, President Joe Biden unveiled an $842 billion military budget request for fiscal year 2024 — $26 billion more than Congress appropriated in 2023, and nearly $100 billion more than in 2022.
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, delivered a speech on the Senate floor last week pushing for a higher military budget than Biden’s proposal calls for, one with more funding for the B-21 bomber that will be housed at bases including Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City.
“And I hope the markup will produce a strong bill that helps address the shortfalls in our readiness,” Thune said.
Thune said countries such as China, Russia and Iran pose threats to the U.S. He also critiqued his Democratic colleagues, who he said prioritize other initiatives over national defense.
“But that betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of reality,” Thune said. “We live in a fallen world, Mr. President, and as long as we live in a fallen world, there will be evil men bent on aggression.”
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