H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, authorized the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) to regulate the marketing and production of tobacco products. The legislation was a response to a thirteen year old Supreme Court ruling that Congress had to give specific authority to the FDA for it to be able to apply this regulation. The Act specifically directed the FDA to end the marketing and sales of tobacco to children, to prevent cigarette manufacturers from calling cigarettes `light' or `less dangerous', and to required the removal of certain damaging materials from cigarettes. The Act also established a new fee paid for by the cigarette industry to fund the additional work that would be required of the FDA. This was a vote on a motion by Rep. Rogers (R-MI) to send the bill back to committee.
A motion to recommit to committee is a procedural device used by an opponent of a pending measure to attempt to prevent a vote in the House on that measure. Rep. Rogers argued that the bill should not move forward because it would place too large an additional burden on the FDA. The impact, he claimed, would be that the FDA Commissioner would then continually have to decide between working on the limitations and prohibitions on cigarettes mandated in the bill and devoting resources to examining food facilities and undertaking research on various diseases.
Rep. Waxman, who was leading the Democratic supporter of the bill, had previously argued that ”regulating tobacco is the single most important thing we can do right now to curb (its) deadly toll, and FDA is the only agency with the right combination of scientific expertise, regulatory experience, and public health mission to oversee these products effectively.”
Waxman (D-CA), responded to the Rogers motion by arguing that “this bill will not divert resources away from other important functions at the Food and Drug Administration (because) it is fully funded by a user fee from the tobacco industry . . . and none of the funds to deal with tobacco will come out of other activities at FDA.” He added that the bill also allowed the FDA to borrow money to support the early stages of the new program to insure that other FDA funds were not diverted from their usual purposes. Waxman noted that the measure “is supported by 1,000 public health and other groups, including the Heart Association, the Lung Association, the Cancer Society and the American Public Health Association. They would not support this bill if it did what (Rep. Rogers) claims it does . . . .”
The motion failed by a vote of 169- 256. One hundred and fifty-seven Republicans and twelve Democrats voted aye. Two hundred and thirty-eight Democrats and eighteen Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the bill was not sent back to committee, and the House moved to a final vote on legislation, which authorized the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products.