8News: Package to tackle food and fuel prices passes House and heads to Senate

8NEWS, HANNAH BRANDT

New legislation in Washington aims to tackle inflation at the grocery store and the pump.

The U.S. House passed the “Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act” on Thursday. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., led the push for the package in the house. The legislation targets consolidation in the meat packing industry, makes cheaper E-15 biofuel more widely available and lowers fertilizer prices for farmers.

Spanberger says it’s a direct response to people calling on them to find solutions to inflation.

“They want us to lower costs at the grocery store, particularly meat prices, they want us to lower gas prices,” Spanberger said.

Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, was one of the people involved in putting the package together. She says she is confident the biofuel provision will make a difference.

“We’re literally putting money in people’s pockets because they’re saving,” Axne said.

Many of the individual bills in the package are bipartisan. But together, they only got a small handful of Republican votes.

Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota called out his Republican colleagues when talking about the package.

“Republican colleagues who have been on television every night, and on Twitter and on social media complaining about inflation – that’s fair. What’s not fair is to do nothing about it,” Phillips said.

The controversy centers on creating a special investigator to enforce competition regulations in the meat and poultry industries. Rep. David Rouzer of North Carolina was one of the Republicans who specifically attacked that piece of the package.

“That will only add to the regulatory burden of our food processers across the country. And that’s going to increase costs,” Rouzer said.

Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., was also against the bill – and what she called the overregulation within it.

“We need to slam the brakes on any policy that empowers more government bureaucrats and impoverishes the people,” Cammack said.

Now that the package has passed the House, it will go to the Senate. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is hopeful more Republicans will get on board to pass it.

“That legislation makes sense. It’s always harder to get things through in the Senate. But I’m looking forward to working and trying to get that bill done,” Warner said.

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