Washington insiders say James R. Jeffords, R-Vt., may lose Republican support for legislation that renews the Northeast Dairy Compact. With the U.S. Senate split 50-50, Jeffords raised eyebrows when he failed to back President George W. Bush’s tax cut plan. As a result, many insiders now say Jeffords will not get GOP backing on his pet project – the compact.

The Northeast Dairy Compact, which allows six New England states to set a price for Class I milk, was created in 1996 as an experiment, designated to end when federal milk marketing order consolidation occurred. When reform arrived in January of 2000, the compact was extended to Sept. 30, 2001. Since 1996, 24 additional states have passed legislation to either join the compact or to form a southern compact.

Last week a bill extending the Northeast Dairy Compact as well as the creation of both a Southern and Intermountain compact was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was sent to the House Committee on Judiciary where it will have a tough fight. Judiciary chairman, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., opposes the legislation because he believes it unconstitutionally regulates interstate commerce. A senate bill is expected in June.

The Boston Globe