After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House negotiated an agreement extending the government shutdown deadline to September 30, the prospect of another shutdown looms large as The Washington Post reported a potential deal fell apart Friday, September 18.
However, disagreements over spending for farmers and child nutrition have delayed an agreement that House Democrats wanted to have done by Friday, The Post reported. The delay comes during the two parties’ continued stalemate over coronavirus relief spending as airlines and other industries continue to struggle to stay afloat.
A Trump Rally Promise May Have Derailed a Deal
I was thrilled to be back in WISCONSIN tonight with thousands of loyal, hardworking American Patriots! 47 days from now, we are going to win Wisconsin, and we are going to win 4 more years in the White House! #MAGA pic.twitter.com/4FBaVlU8Ir
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2020
The stopgap measure that is being bargained over would extend government funding from now until December 11. Failing to negotiate a deal could lead to a government shutdown, with nonessential government functions being unavailable for the public.
Farmers had been receiving bailout funds from the government to alleviate the pressures they were facing as a consequence of Trump’s trade war with China, PBS reported. After Trump started a trade war with China, China responded by imposing tariffs on soy and other staples; farmers have lost billions of dollars in exports and thousands of farms have closed as a result, despite government aid. Trump promised farmers that they would $13 million more in aid during a rally he held in Wisconsin, The Hill reported; that money would be part of the next $30 billion stop-gap measure.
According to The Washington Post, Pelosi — displeased with the addition — agreed in a call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to include the farm funding if $2 billion of the bill was also used for child nutrition spending; then she called back and reneged on the deal.
The change was at least partially politically motivated, according to what an aide told The Washington Post, “We have serious concerns about giving President Trump a blank check to spread political favors. It is an abuse of taxpayer dollars to give this administration more money so the president can grab headlines with announcements at campaign rallies.”
Democrats may also be feeling some residual discontent from the last temporary spending measure after Republicans refused to include $400 million in funding for election security, as the Associated Press reported.
Trump was not happy with the developments, tweeting on Friday, “Pelosi wants to take 30 Billion Dollars away from our great Farmers. Can’t let that happen!”
Airlines Want an Extension of the Payroll Support Program
— Allied Pilots (@AlliedPilots) September 17, 2020
Mnuchin, Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others also received a letter Friday from United Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby. Kirby was urging them to continue negotiating over a coronavirus relief bill and specifically, the Payroll Support Program, which had been supporting airline employees. Here an excerpt from that letter:
Without additional funding for the PSP grants, up to 16,000 members of the United family are at risk of involuntary furloughs beginning October 1st. Continuation of this critical program would prevent the furloughs and provide additional time for the industry to reach recovery without losing our colleagues to involuntary furloughs.
The Payroll Support Program for passenger airlines has been very successful, directly supporting airline employees and preventing airlines from having to involuntarily furlough employees at the lowest possible point of the COVID-19 crisis.
Because of the continuing impact of the virus, extending the PSP grant program by September 30th is critical to saving tens of thousands of aviation jobs at US airlines.
The sooner Congress and the Administration can come together again and reach an agreement, the better United and the entire industry’s chances of keeping employees and returning the economic benefits we provide for the larger economy.
Pelosi wants airline funding to be part of a coronavirus relief bill. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act that passed the Democrat-controlled House — which McConnell has refused to put to a vote in the Senate — would provide airlines with $58 billion in coronavirus relief, American University Radio reported.
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, however, wants Congress to spend $25 billion in a stand-alone bill to extend the payroll grants to March of next year, Roll Call reported. “If (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi was willing to move a bill to keep people from being laid off in the airline industry that’s stand-alone, that the president would certainly support it,” he said, according to Reuters.
The previous $1 trillion Republican coronavirus relief proposal McConnell set up for a vote on September 8 did not include any relief for airlines, Chron reported.