Bad Booze Bill on the Rocks?


poetry, indeed.

Yesterday I wrote about the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act—a.k.a. the preposterously acronymed CARE Act—which aimed to prop up state-based alcohol wholesalers at the expense of distillers, brewers, vintners, and drinkers. H.R. 5034 contained some dubious constitutional shenanigans, including a gambit to privilege alcohol-regulating powers conferred by the Prohibition-repealing 21st Amendment over the Constitution's trade-enabling Commerce Clause. At the time, a Judiciary committee hearing on the bill was tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday.

Today, insidery booze biz pub Kane's Beverage News Daily (which hides its light under a subscription wall bushel) reports that not only has the hearing been cancelled (perhaps due to concerns about the bill's constitutionality), it somehow magically never existed in the first place:

When we called a proponent to ask about "constitutional problems" with the bill, we got an interesting dance.  There had been talk about scheduling a full committee hearing on the bill, we were told, but since it hadn't actually been "noticed," our source thought it wasn't quite right to say it had been cancelled.

And then the proponent said they weren't aware of any constitutional problems.  In fact, the proponent said, Texas Attorney General James C. Ho [Ed update: Ho is actually solicitor general] told a House Judiciary subscommittee on March 18 that the legislation would reduce litigation and was within the power of Congress to pass.

Meanwhile, in a related development, several lobbyists have told us the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau has drafted a letter to be signed by John Manfreda, administrator, strongly opposing the measure on constitutional grounds. 

Like all policy statements by federal agencies, the letter had to be reviewed by a number of agencies, including Treasury, since TTB is a Treasury agency, as well as the White House Office of Management & Budget, and the Justice Department.  We're told one of those agencies is holding the letter.

Reason gets results?

In other news, there is a Congressional Wine Caucus.

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  1. Umm, the Texas AG is Greg Abbott. James Ho is the Solicitor General of Texas. Somebody should let Kane’s know.

    1. Way to slap that Ho down, T.

  2. Not to kill a buzz, Kane, but I think Ho might be Texas’ Soliciter General, not Attorney General.

  3. Why would giving effect to the clear language of the 21st, which necessarily implies that states may make laws regarding transportation or importation of intoxicating liquors be “dubious constitutional shenanigans,” especially with respect to the Constitution-eating commerce clause shenanigans?

    1. ::sigh::

      No law can effect the meaning of the Constitution.


      If you want to change the meaning of the Constitution you must use the stipulated amendment process.

      You are welcome to argue that the Court screwed up, though I think you’re wrong. But even if they did it can not be fixed with a law.


      1. ::sigh:: again…

        Effect, affect, whatever.

  4. Reason gets results?

    Hey, I’m a huge fan of Reason, but that’s just an embarrasing question to ask in any public policy context.

    1. Agree.

      The chattering class wine snobs probably had more to do with this one dying.

  5. magically

    (D-Mass.) Foiled By Witchery Unemployed local ducks puff out chests.

  6. Ho is not the TX Attorney General. Someone tell Kane.

  7. So we have an Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, AND a Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau under the treasury.

    Presumably with conflicting and overlapping functions.
    Seriously, does anyone actually know how many different agencies at the federal level regulate alcohol?

    How can any even think to suggest that regulation is not burdensome when there are several different agencies with conflicting missions regulating the same business?

    1. TTB was part of the ATF until January 2003 when it was split off to handle the tax and regulation side under the Department of the Treasury and the ATF to handle the enforcement side under the Department of Justice.

      The split was part of Homeland Security Act which was passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

  8. I’ll drink to that!

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