WASHINGTON — Money for farm price supports has emerged as a sticking point in the final bargaining over stopgap funding to avert a partial government shutdown beginning Oct. 1.
President Donald Trump in Wisconsin on Thursday night announced that his administration would make available an additional $13 billion in farm payouts using Commodity Credit Corporation funds to cover coronavirus-related losses.
But the agency is now bumping up against its $30 billion borrowing cap, and the White House had asked Congress to include an “anomaly” in the continuing resolution to replenish CCC losses incurred as of Sept. 17 in order to keep future payments flowing.
Trump tweeted Friday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was blocking the CCC funds from being added to the must-pass spending bill. “Pelosi wants to take 30 Billion Dollars away from our great Farmers. Can’t let that happen!” he wrote.
Sources with knowledge of the talks said Democrats have insisted that farmers would not get help in the stopgap without additional funds for food stamps.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, without quick reimbursement the CCC may be unable to make regular payments for farm bill programs as soon as next month.
A similar issue temporarily held up stopgap funding talks last year, when the Trump administration had rolled out support programs for farmers affected by the president’s trade dispute with China.
The agriculture money was still in play with less than two hours before the noon deadline appropriators set to file the measure in the House during that chamber’s pro forma session.
Earlier in the day, sources involved in the talks expressed optimism that kinks would be worked out before the House gavels in at noon.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was expected to speak separately with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., according to a senior Senate aide who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
As of late Thursday, other outstanding issues included the length of the stopgap measure. Republicans want the duration to run no later than Dec. 18, while Democrats want to extend current funding levels into February.
There were also disputes over redistricting-related census deadlines, as well as funding for a potential presidential transition process during the lame-duck session and early January. The disposition of those items was unclear as of Friday morning.
Pelosi and Mnuchin agreed weeks ago that they would keep the CR “clean” of extraneous bills and provisions that could slow down talks or create political issues for either party. But as with any must-pass legislation, jockeying for late additions, particularly with the campaign’s home stretch around the corner, was an issue.
The noon Friday deadline to file the legislation was intended to keep the House on schedule to take up the bill early next week. The Rules Committee has scheduled a meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to consider the terms of floor debate for the measure.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., has said he wants to give the Senate plenty of time to overcome any procedural hurdles and avoid bumping up against the Sept. 30 deadline.