Congressional Democrats and Republicans and the White House have resolved a dispute over farm aid in a stopgap funding bill that had raised the risk of a U.S. government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Under the deal, farm aid will be added to legislation that would keep government operations financed through Dec. 11 in exchange for increased food aid to low-income families. Once the House votes on the bill it will be sent to the Senate for a vote before the fiscal year ends Oct. 1.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues on Monday released a bill extending most funding into December, but it lacked the $30 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp. that the Trump administration and farm state lawmakers had sought.
Pelosi said in a statement the two sides had agreed on the bill and that it would include almost $8 billion in money for a pandemic program to feed children who normally receive school lunches. “We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout,” Pelosi said in her statement.
Democratic critics have accused President Donald Trump of using the CCC to dole out political favors. The president last Thursday announced he was drawing $13 billion in aid from the CCC to help rural areas.
Pelosi faced some criticism from her own members on the stopgap bill. Swing district Representative Cindy Axne of Iowa issuing a statement calling for inclusion of the CCC funds and warning about a shortfall for traditional farm subsidies.
Also, Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who also represents a district that Republicans are trying to win back, criticized Pelosi in a tweet over the issue. “This is a partisan move that slows down much-needed relief for American farmers and agribusinesses. I strongly urge the speaker and House leadership to include an extension of the Commodity Credit Corporation’s borrowing authority in the funding bill,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Democrats had preferred to keep the farm aid debate for a separate stimulus bill and at one point agreed to the change in exchange for $2 billion in food assistance for children. But the final language was still being worked on.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed earlier this month to keep talks on a coronavirus relief stimulus package separate from the stopgap bill. Stimulus talks have stalled since early August with both sides about $1 trillion apart in their offers.
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