The federal funding bill that House Democrats passed last Thursday included a provision to raise the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) borrowing capacity. This provision is designed to allow the Trump administration’s bailout for American farmers to continue unabated.
The bailout was intended to help stem the pain felt by America’s farmers as a result of President Trump’s trade standoff with China. But the USDA has been dishing out so much money due to the trade war’s increasingly harmful impact on farmers that it is nearing its legal financial capacity.
The new measure essentially increases USDA’s authority to spend an extra $30 billion in taxpayer money for redistribution to farmers.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11) criticized Democrats, stating about the measure, “It’s ironic that as news was released about the budget deal some are implying that House Democratic leadership is somehow to be thanked, apparently for failing to follow through on the threat to do serious harm to rural America.”
“That’s akin to Texans thanking Santa Anna for making Texas a Republic. The good news is the Democrats failed in their effort to use our hard-working farm and ranch families as pawns in their obsessive vendetta against the president,” Conaway added.
He concluded, “While I’m pleased Democrats came to their senses, it’s shameful that they attempted to score political points on the back of rural America,”
Conaway’s colleague, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), who also sits on the Agriculture Committee, said on September 16, “Although we mutually have concerns with President Trump’s approach to trade negotiations, we refuse to engage in the same tactics that punish our constituents and harm our communities that rely on agriculture.”
Vela continued, “The upcoming CR should include the anomaly requested by USDA that would allow them to access the $30 billion in spending of the Commodity Credit Corporation prior to October 1st to ensure that MFP and farm bill payments continue to go out.”
“We cannot and will not allow our farmers to be used as political pawns,” Vela concluded.
The fiscal hawks at Taxpayers for Common Sense said the move will allow the administration to “continue showering farming and ranching businesses with subsidies (currently totaling $28 billion).”
TCS added, “In addition to government funding and temporary extension of various programs, the Democrats want to limit the actions the Trump administration can take while the Continuing Resolution (CR) will be in effect.”
The entire bill, including the increase in USDA’s capacity to hand out subsidies, awaits Senate action where if it passes will then need President Trump’s signature to become law.
In the coming weeks, Congress will also likely be taking up the USMCA trade deal which proponents like Vice President Mike Pence insist could help alleviate the struggle brought on by the trade war with China.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.