The $10.1 billion tobacco buyout heads to the Senate today after passing the House last night as part of a major $136 billion rewrite of corporate tax law.

The House approved the measure 280-141.

The $10.1 billion in the tobacco buyout translates to $7 for quota holders and $3 for growers based on 2002.

“This is a monumental, historic victory for our tobacco farmers and their families and our communities,” said U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., who introduced the first comprehensive bill almost three years ago. “Relief is in sight.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., said the “legislation is not perfect, but with a 30-percent quota cut looming, it will “make a tremendous difference in North Carolina.” Almost $4 billion will go to North Carolina over the next 10 years. “That money will jumpstart the economy, create jobs and other opportunities and give many debt-ridden tobacco growers an honest chance to survive,” Etheridge says.

Under the bill, tobacco companies will pay for the buyout. The bill eliminates Phase II payments.

It did not contain FDA regulation, an issue over which some senators threatened to filibuster.

Senate leaders, however, indicated they would take up the legislation after the House passed it, according to published reports. The Senate is expected to send the bill to the president either today or Saturday before adjourning to campaign, according to published reports. The White House spokesman Thursday said the administration would support the bill that emerged from House-Senate conference committee.

For more information, a summary of the buyout is posted at www.house.gov/etheridge.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com