A vote on a bill that would open the federal courts to states that want to enforce their prohibitions against the direct shipment of wine and other alcoholic beverages has been delayed, giving opponents of the bill a little breathing room.
Monday, the House had been expected to take a vote on HR2031, sponsored by Rep. Joe Scarborough, R.-Fla., but the bill was not brought to the floor by the House Republican leadership, led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R.-Ill. Proponents of the measure succeeded in passing the bill out of the House Judiciary Committee without a formal hearing on July 20 and were hoping to bring the matter to a quick vote on the House floor.
Advocates of the legislation wanted to have it placed on what is known as the "suspension calendar," which would have meant the bill would be debated by House members but that no amendments could be offered; debate would be limited to 40 minutes. Passage on the suspension calendar requires a two-thirds majority rather than the simple majority required under normal procedures.
According to Simon Siegl, president of the American Vintners Association, a Washington, D.C.-based winery trade organization, Scarborough's bill may not come up for a vote before Congress begins its summer recess on Aug. 5. That would mean the bill would probably not be voted on until after Labor Day. However, Siegl noted that the House leadership has apparently promised Scarborough a vote on the suspension calendar at some point, meaning that they could bring the bill to the floor on short notice.