Dec 17, 2010
02:24 PMThe Wind Machine
The Lame Duck V
● The end of the 111th Congress is in sight. At worse, it will expire January 4. More likely it will find its natural end prior to Christmas Day.
● Late last night, the House of Representatives finally passed a major and controversial tax bill, H.R. 4853, and sent it to the President for his signature today. Fears about passing down the family farm should ease with the adoption of a $5 million exemption level from federal estate taxation. Also, included is a continuation of the IC-DISC tax preference, one that helps small exporters, including some in our tree fruit industry.
● Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave up on trying to pass a complicated and, many said bloated, Continuing Resolution on spending, which was primarily aimed at keeping the U.S. government open and funded through much of next year. Instead, with a shorter term and stripped of funding earmarks, this redrafted measure will be voted upon by the Senate, probably later today or tomorrow. An example of collateral damage: this was a severe hit to chances for passage of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which had been inserted in the now excoriated CR in an attempt to correct an earlier legislative procedural error. The chances of enacting food safety reform this year are now much shakier.
● U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon announced yesterday he will have surgery on Monday for prostate cancer. Mr. Wyden first joined Congress as a member of the House of Representatives in 1980, the year I joined the Northwest Horticultural Council. Thirty years ago, during my first business trip to Washington, D.C., my predecessor, Mr. Ernie Falk, introduced me to the new representative from Portland, Mr. Wyden.