It wasn’t unexpected, but it’s another defeat for the premium cigar industry. The exemption specified in the House Appropriations Bill that included language for cigars from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) control was overridden as the result of an implementation of a Continuing Resolution.
The industry was hoping to advance the Appropriations Bill which would not have provided federal funds for the regulations being implemented by the FDA.
The Continuing Resolution allows for the government to operate under over the next four months. It extends the current funding for operations for most federal agencies and services – continuing provisions enacted during the fiscal year 2016 Appropriations legislation. It does not include riders or major changes to Federal Policy.
In addition, the Continuing Resolution overrides a proposed amendment to the Appropriations Bill that would have moved the predicate date from February 15th, 2007 to the date of enactment by the regulations.
A premium cigar exemption and predicate date change is still an option for 2017 through both the Appropriations process and through the legislative process.
With the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President, it was expected the Appropriations Bill would not be pushed forward. The move was not a surprise as there was less incentive to push the bill forward because of what is expected to be a more favorable working relationship between Trump and the Republican controlled Congress).
Meanwhile, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky), the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee is stepping down. Rogers has been known to be sympathetic to the cigar industry and helped move the proposed exemption into the House Appropriations Bill. Rogers is being replaced by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey). Frelinghuysen has been a co-sponsor of HR 662, legislation that calls for a permanent exemption to the premium cigar industry from FDA regulation.
The Continuing Resolution still must pass a vote in both the House and Senate.