Wednesday, September 23, 2020

House passes bipartisan bill to fund government through Dec. 11; deal includes expanded farm aid, food assistance

In a 359-57 vote on Tuesday night, the House passed a bill to keep the government funded through Dec. 11, following a compromise on farm aid and food assistance.

"The bipartisan agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, reached just hours before the vote, is expected to smooth the bill’s passage in the GOP-controlled Senate and avert a partial shutdown when the government’s funding expires next Thursday," Kristina Peterson and Lindsay Wise report for The Wall Street Journal. The Senate is expected to vote on it this week.

The bill "would add to the spending bill $21 billion sought by the White House for the Commodity Credit Corp., or CCC, a Depression-era program designed to stabilize farm incomes that permits borrowing as much as $30 billion from the Treasury to finance its activities. The agreement prohibits any payments from going to fossil fuel refiners and importers, a concern of Democrats, and includes roughly $8 billion in additional nutrition funding," Peterson and Wise report. "President Trump has tapped the CCC program to finance both trade relief and coronavirus-related aid for farmers, a second round of which he announced at a campaign rally in Wisconsin last week. But the program has traditionally been used to send out payments established under bipartisan farm bills, some of which the Agriculture Department had said could be subject to delays as soon as October."

The bill also adds $8 billion for food assistance. "That includes a one-year extension of a program expiring at month’s end that would provide funding to families of school-age children to buy groceries, replacing the free or reduced-price meals they would have received at school, "Peterson and Wise report. "They also expanded the program to include children at child-care centers affected by the pandemic."

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