Calm Down, People.

Lots and lots and lots of ink has been spilled this past month over House Resolution 5034.


And I’m here to say… calm down, people. Seriously. Panties are bunching all over the wine blogging whateverspehere these days, and it’s making us all look just a little silly. Am I saying that H.R.5034 is a good thing? Is it some awesome benevolent piece of legislation that we should all get behind? No, I’m not.

The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness (CARE) Act of 2010 is a gross manipulation of the Washington lobbying machine by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. They love the bill. The thing is, they should have picked a better patsy.

While there are 43 cosponsors to the bill, the head guy on the docket is Rep. Bill Delahunt, Democrat, of Massachusetts' 10th Congressional District. Rep. Delahunt has been proudly serving the areas of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and Boston’s South Shore since 1997. This is his 7th session of Congress. And how many pieces of legislation sponsored by Representative Delahunt are now law?

Four. 13 years in the House, 61 sponsored bills (not counting resolutions, which do not become laws), and the man is responsible for four laws.

As an example of someone who started their Congressional career about the same time as Delahunt, Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon’s 2nd district, who began his career in 1999, has sponsored 68 bills in that time. Of those, 14 are now laws.

Look, these things matter. Who sponsors the bill matters. What favors they have and are willing to call in matter. Delahunt, the sponsor of this bill, is a lame duck. He’s already announced his retirement. Does anyone know about the political clout of lame ducks? Everything in Washington is quid pro quo… and Delahunt won’t be around long enough to scratch enough backs to make this bill happen.

H.R.5034 is currently sitting on the laps of the House Judiciary Committee. Why? Because Delahunt sits on the committee. He isn’t the chair, mind you, that’s Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (who, by the way, is not a cosponsor of the bill). There it will languish. The bill would have to be debated in committee, and by a vote of a simple majority in that committee (here are the committee members). Five members of the Judiciary Committee are cosponsors of 5034. OK, so that’s six votes. How hard will Delahunt work–or be able to work–for the other 14 he’ll need just to get out of committee?

That would send it to the House floor. Well, it would send it to be scheduled, by the Office of the Speaker, for floor debate. Then a majority of all of the House would need to vote aye. Then it would be sent to the Office of the Majority Leader of the Senate, to be recommended to Senate committee. Same process there, then a floor vote in the Senate (if you’ve been paying any attention lately, Senate Republicans haven’t really made it possible for anyone to be voting on anything in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body these days).

If the bill is unchanged in its Senate form, then yes, from there it would go to the desk of President Obama to be signed. If it is changed at all, it either goes back to the House or into Conference Committee (where bills–good and bad alike–go to die).

All of this happening to a bill whose sponsor has one foot out the door? Nope. Not gonna happen.

So take a chill pill, Chicken Little. The sky’s still up there. Promise.

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