Sure, the government shutdown is causing severe financial crises for some families, filling National Parks with waste, and threatening to delay tax refunds… but, what about the booze industry? Distillers, winemakers, and brewers are not immune to the fiscal fiasco. The federal agency tasked with regulating the sector is shuttered which means no new products will be introduced to the market for a while.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) declared that due to the funding stoppage, only their websites will be functioning. In short, that means that you can still pay excise tax and fees, but not much else.
A statement from the TTB noted that you can file permits and COLA’s, the form required to okay a bottle before it hits market. Unfortunately, the statement also noted that “submissions will not be reviewed or approved until appropriations are enacted.” So, new products will okayed until the shutdown ends.
As for said functioning websites, don’t get too excited. The TTB’s main site included the disclaimer “other information on this website may not be up to date, and TTB will not be able to respond to questions or comments submitted via the website until appropriations are enacted.”
Neat Pour tried to contact the agency for comment, but alas that was not an option. “TTB will suspend all non-excepted TTB operations, and no personnel will be available to respond to any inquiries, including emails, telephone calls, facsimiles, or other communications,” the regulators stated. “TTB has directed employees NOT to report to work and they are prohibited by federal law from volunteering their services during a lapse in appropriations.”
Several producers contacted by Neat Pour for comment expressed frustration at the stagnation. However, all declined to go on the record, citing a customer base that prefers alcohol as a means to escape, not indulge in politics.
The three week (so far) government shutdown was initiated by President Trump after Congress refused to fund his proposed wall at the U.S.—Mexican border. The crisis is ongoing, but economists estimate that Trump’s actions are costing the American economy billions of dollars every week.