VOTE ON TOBACCO BILL EXPECTED THIS WEEK

News Article -

Months of intra-party squabble over legislation to authorizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco have been resolved and the bill, H.R. 1108, the "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act" has been placed on the legislative calendar for action as early as the week of July 28. The pay-as-you-go budget rules were at the heart of the dispute holding up the legislation, which has an offset of $300 million.

The offsetting amount will come from provisions in the Federal Thrift Savings Plan (H.R. 6500). According to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), H.R. 6500 has sufficient savings left over to offset costs associated with the tobacco bill provisions.

Other modifications include a language change to prevent FDA or other law enforcement agencies from regulating tobacco sales on tribal lands.

Among other things, the legislation would give FDA authority to strictly regulate advertising and nicotine levels but would not allow the agency to ban the nicotine or cigarettes altogether.

When it comes to the floor, the bill will be considered under suspension of the rules so that no amendments can be offered. A two-thirds majority vote will be needed to pass the legislation. It is unclear whether there will be enough votes to pass the bill.

The Senate version of the bill, S. 635, that is sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has passed out of the Health. Labor, Education and Pensions Committee but there has been no floor action. (Contact: Amy Mann)