House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey has proposed legislation to fund the government through November that could partially block Donald Trump’s unprecedented $28 billion bailout for farmers hurting due to his trade war. Trump originally utilized a Depression-era program to seize billions of taxpayer dollars for his massive bailout without getting congressional approval. But as bailout spending approaches the program’s $30 billion limit, the Trump administration needs Congress to raise the cap in the stopgap funding bill currently being negotiated. Lowey ignored that request from the White House, prompting some Republicans to charge that she is jeopardizing passage of the bill.
“It’s not clear to me whether or not this is a negotiating tactic by our friends on the other side,” said Nebraska GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, “but I do think it’s important for America that this be resolved.”
At base, however, House Democrats hope to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government into November that doesn’t include anything but the basics. Keeping the bill as narrow as possible, they argue, will reduce the chances that controversial provisions will kill the bill. Instead, Democrats want to leave the tougher issues for consideration in a longer term spending bill later this fall.
“The American people deserve a robust debate on the costs of the Trump trade war,” Lowey spokesperson Evan Hollander, said in a statement. “The clean CR that House Democrats have circulated will keep the government open and provide time for Congress to have that debate.”
Democrats’ initial exclusion of the bailout, a top priority for the White House, sets up a major point of contention for negotiations over keeping the government funded. Watch this space.