WineAmerica Perspectives: 'Congress can really move when it really wants to'

Jim Trezise, President, WineAmerica

Senate Moves, Tax & Trade Bureau Request 

This month was one of those which reminds us that Congress can really move when it really wants to. 

Jim Trezise

The House had already left town for its August recess, but the Senate has been working on both the bipartisan infrastructure bill ($1.2 trillion), and another $3.5 trillion measure that focuses more broadly on "human infrastructure" and was passed on a straight party-line vote. Both of these are major accomplishments, even though there is much more work to be done in the House, then between the two chambers, and with the Biden Administration. In other words, it's not a done deal... yet.

Still, the ultimate passage of these two measures looks more likely than ever, with more negotiations to resume when Congress returns in September. Since the first year of any new Administration is the best opportunity to get major things done – because next year is an elections year (already!) – there is additional pressure to complete the task.

While these potential measures do not directly affect the wine industry, they could provide indirect benefits with more jobs and a stronger economy. In addition, if passed, they would allow the Administration and Congress to focus on other issues, some including direct effects on our industry.

Executive Order: TTB Request

Vice President of Government Affairs Michael Kaiser is hard at work coordinating WineAmerica's response to President Biden's recent Executive Order, which created a White House Competition Council charged with examining the competitive situations of many industries in the overall economy.

The inclusion of the beverage alcohol industry was a surprise, and the deadlines for response were very tight, but we were determined to weigh in on behalf of our members. The EO wants to assess "current market structures and conditions of competition in the  American markets for beer, wine and spirits, including an assessment of any threats to competition and barriers to new entrants."

Two of the three areas of interest involve distribution, while the other addresses trade practices as well as unnecessary regulations. A report is due to the WHCC after 120 days, followed by possible rule-making reflecting the findings. The deadline for industry input was Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Separately, we encourage all wineries to ask their Senators and Representative to cosponsor the USPS Shipping Equity Act, which would allow the postal service to ship wines and other alcohol beverages, providing new competition to FedEx and UPS and opening up new markets.