WASHINGTON — Some House Democrats, amid a backlash from moderates, are backing away from a plan to block President Donald Trump from extending new farm bailout funds, people briefed on the discussions said.
The shift comes days after Democrats had sought to prevent the White House from expanding a major component of its farm bailout plan, which the White House has estimated could cost close to $30 billion. Trump had authorized the bailout funds in response to an outcry from farmers who felt caught in the middle of his trade war with China.
Democrats are likely to include legislation that would expedite payment of these funds as part of a must-pass spending bill as soon as this week. The people spoke on condition of anonymity.
The provision in question would now ensure continuation of a multibillion-dollar White House farm bailout program that was at risk of running short of money. The Washington Post reported last week that House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., was proposing to block the bailout program as she and other lawmakers worked to finalize a short-term spending bill aimed at preventing a government shutdown Oct. 1.
Lowey and other House Democratic leaders were trying to draft a “clean” spending bill to extend government funding through Nov. 21 without including extraneous issues. However, a number of moderate House Democrats, including leaders of the Agriculture Committee, objected, urging that the spending bill include language safeguarding the farm bailout program.
In a statement Monday, Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and other committee leaders said that the Agriculture Department request to safeguard the bailout program should be included in the spending bill, which is expected on the House floor later this week.
”As members of Congress who represent agricultural communities, we repeatedly hear from farmers in our districts whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by the ongoing trade wars,” Peterson and other lawmakers wrote. “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. ... We cannot and will not allow our farmers to be used as political pawns.”
A senior Democratic aide said Monday that language on the farm bailout was likely to be included in the must-pass spending bill.