The lame duck session of Congress has been busy. The House passed the Child Nutrition Act last week, the Senate passed the Food Safety Bill, and agreement was reached this week regarding the Bush tax cuts.
National Milk’s Chris Galen reported in Thursday’s DairyLine that the Food Safety Bill was quite controversial because it exempts a lot of smaller food producers from its regulation, something National Milk is concerned about, but it also contains user fees which are in essence taxes, and that presents a Constitutional snafu that may prevent it from becoming law because taxing authority is only given to the House.
National Milk praised the passage of the Child Nutrition Act, Galen said, because it still mandates that milk and dairy products have a prominent role in school feeding programs.
The final issue is the tax question, specifically estate taxes, which we talked about last week. President Obama and Congressional Republicans reached a compromise. You’ll recall that last week that we pointed out that, if Congress failed to act before December 31, the estate tax comes back with a vengeance, having only a $1 million exemption and a maximum tax rate of 55 percent.
Under the deal announced Monday, the estate tax exemption would go to $5 million and the maximum tax rate would only be 35 percent, something National Milk supports, according to Galen, however Congressional Democrats are not happy with the compromise so we’ll have to see what finally gets negotiated before Congress recesses for the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The target date for ending the session was December 17, according to Galen’s ear to the rail, however the controversial issues being dealt with may mean the session drags out until just before Christmas, he said.