As stimulus debate rages, senators agree on tax cuts for beer

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Lawmakers are still divided along partisan lines about how — or whether — to proceed with another round of economic stimulus before the year’s end, but one issue has the backing of most Senators: tax cuts for beer, wine and liquor.

A bipartisan group of 57 senators sent a letter to Senate leadership Tuesday asking for a permanent extension of an excise tax cut for brewers, wine makers and distillers in any final legislation before Congress breaks for the year. The bill extending the tax cut, which was initially passed in the 2017 tax overhaul, has 77 sponsors in the Senate and 351 backers in the House.

Without an extension, the levies will increase on Jan. 1, 2021, which could damage an industry that is already struggling, the lawmakers said.

“Producers have already seen dramatic declines in revenue because of the closures of tasting rooms and restaurants, bars and other on-premise establishments and cancellations of major sporting events and concerts,” the letter said.

Bing Guan/Bloomberg

Passing the alcohol excise tax cut extension likely hinges on whether Congress can reach quick agreement on stimulus legislation that has been stalled since the summer. A $908 billion bipartisan compromise proposal was unveiled Tuesday that would include more money for small-businesses loans, aid for local governments and an extension of unemployment benefits.

That plan has yet to garner support from House and Senate leadership, and lawmakers would need to negotiate to include the extension of the beer-tax cut in the package. Congress also faces a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a government funding bill to avert a federal shutdown.

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