If successful, House Dems' delay could impact MFP payouts and also any ARC/PLC payments House
House Democrats are weighing a continuing resolution (CR) into November that could temporarily freeze the Trump administration’s MFP trade relief payments to farmers as well as any ARC and/or PLC payouts.
The House Appropriations Committee is circulating a draft continuing resolution (CR) that leaves out language requested by the White House to ensure that USDA can continue distributing checks to farmers and ranchers via the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and the ARC and PLC programs.
“The American people deserve a robust debate on the costs of the Trump trade war,” committee spokesperson Evan Hollander noted, according to Politico. “The clean CR that House Democrats have circulated avoids partisan controversy, keeps the government open, and provides time for Congress to debate the trade war.”
White House budget officials have asked lawmakers to include a provision in the bill that would keep the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) from breaching its $30 billion borrowing limit in the coming months under the strain of the tariff relief payments.
The trade aid money is paid out of the CCC. USDA has so far paid $3.3 billion out of the $14.5 billion set aside for farm payments for 2019. The agency sent $8.6 billion in direct payments for last year’s production.
Congressional sources say the CR is not final and could still be altered.
The House is expected to vote next week on the short-term stopgap funding measure.
The Senate would also need to approve the bill, and President Trump will ultimately have to sign it.
The Washington Post first reported the Democrats’ potential plan on Thursday.
PERSPECTIVE: The politics of this issue is clear: House Democrats would put in jeopardy already announced and committed payments to farmers and ranchers. While some Democrats say Republicans did a similar thing when then USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack used CCC funding for a disaster program pushed by then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), congressional contacts say that is not a fair comparison because the MFP and ARC/PLC payments have been committed to farmers. Said one veteran political contact, “If Democrats want to make inroads in getting more rural citizens to vote Democratic, this is the worst thing they could do and could widen the gulf that currently exists whereby over 60% of the rural sector votes Republican.”