Beer Could be the Last Bipartisan Issue in Washington

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The Craft Beverage Modernization Act has support from both sides of the aisle.

If our current political climate has left you lamenting that Washington, DC, is nothing but a partisan hellhole, think again: At least one issue currently before Congress has been able to find broad bipartisan support… beer! As if you didn’t realize beer was going to save the world all along?

On Monday, The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act added its 218th cosponsor in the House, meaning the bill officially has majority support in Congress’s lower chamber. Even more representatives have since jumped on board, and the legislation now has 226 cosponsors in all. However, even more remarkable in these polarizing times is how bipartisan the support has been: As it stands, 131 of those cosponsors are Republicans and 95 are Democrats. In the Senate, the companion bill has 44 cosponsors: 25 Democrats, 18 Republicans and one Independent (Maine’s Angus King who caucuses with the Democrats).

Though bipartisan issues may seem few and far between these days, this bill’s broad support probably shouldn’t be that surprising. Among its many benefits to companies that produce alcoholic beverages of all sorts, the bill looks to cut the per-barrel excise taxes on beer production as well as to simplify several other rules including broadening the list of ingredients brewers can use without federal government approval to include “wholesome fruits, vegetables, and spices suitable for human food consumption.” For these reasons, the legislation was supported by both the Beer Institute, a trade group that generally supports the interest of larger breweries, and the Brewers Association, which focuses on smaller brewers.

“I want to thank Rep. Rouzer as well as the 217 Republican and Democratic House members from across the country who are standing with America’s beer industry and supporting legislation that provides fair and broad tax relief and regulatory reforms to brewers of all sizes and beer importers,” Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute, said in a statement celebrating the bill passing the majority threshold. “The beer industry supports millions of U.S. jobs and generates hundreds of billions of dollars to our nation’s economy. This commonsense legislation will provide a much-needed update to the federal excise tax on beer so that all brewers and beer importers can continue to innovate and invest in their companies to meet consumer demand for America’s most popular alcohol beverage – beer.”

Still, not everyone in America is completely on board with this bill. As we wrote about last month, some anti-alcohol advocates are concerned that the legislation – which also has implications for both the wine and spirits industry – could lead to wines with higher levels of alcohol. We suppose we’ll have to wait until the midterms to see if boozier wine becomes yet another wedge issue.

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