The elections have taken place and you have all (I hope) voted. Now let’s move on to 2019 and 116e Congress. With only a few outstanding races to decide, we can tell from the election results that a lot is about to change in DC and across the country.
- The Democratic Party won additional seats and will control a majority in the House of Representatives.
- The Republicans in the Senate have been able to increase their majority, but will still see an evolution in their ranks. With the death of Senator John McCain and the retirement of former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, they lost members who had more than 60 years of legislative experience between them.
How will changes like this impact small independent breweries?
Legislation expired and non-return
In many ways, we are starting at the beginning. All current legislation expires at the end of the 115e Congress (probably December 31, 2018):
- The recalibration of the federal excise tax, passed in the first half of 115e Congress, expires December 31, 2019. It is quite possible that we will count on the new Congress to extend or make permanent the bill that lowers the FET for breweries, wineries and distilleries.
- The original bill that included the recalibration of FET, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA), was one of the most supported pieces of legislation in the 115e Congress with 303 co-sponsors in the House and 56 in the Senate.
- More than 100 members of the House and Senate will not return to the 116e Congress due to retirements, electoral losses, death or running for another office. 70 of these members were co-sponsors of CBMTRA.
- The small brewer caucuses in the House and Senate are losing 49 members due to retirements, electoral losses, deaths or nominations for other positions. The House Small Brewers Caucus is the largest special interest caucus in the 115e Congress.
(READ MORE: Federal Workplace Excise Tax Savings at U.S. Breweries)
CBMTRA House co-sponsors move to statewide seats
Several members of the House of Representatives who retired to run for statewide seats as senator and governor have won their races:
- The new governors of Florida, Tennessee, Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota were all co-sponsors of CBMTRA.
- The new senators from Arizona, North Dakota, Nevada and Tennessee were all co-sponsors of CBMTRA.
What can we expect during the lame duck period?
There are still a few outstanding items that the 115e Congress would like to deal with before the end of the legislative session:
- Passing the Farm Bill is a priority of this Congress: Members of the Conference Committee working to reconcile the House and Senate Farm Bills are continuing their work during the lame duck period to try to make progress. Bill matters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN), incoming House Agriculture Committee Chairman, also expressed his desire to pass it before the end of the year.
- Fund the government: Congress must pass a spending bill by Dec. 7 to avoid a partial government shutdown, but fears remain that the president could veto the bill if it doesn’t include funding of a border wall.
There are other issues like the United States, Mexico and Canada Act (the new NAFTA) that have yet to be passed. The Congress should only be held for 3 more weeks, so there is a chance that not everything will be accomplished.
The Brewers Association is monitoring any issues during the lame duck period that will impact small independent breweries to ensure they are well represented in Washington, D.C. We also look forward to introducing and educating new members and former members of Congress on the 7,000+ American Breweries who live and work in their states and congressional districts upon their return for the 116e legislative session.