Congress Discusses Next Stimulus, Payments Coming for Farmers

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have pitched a number of proposals they argue are essential to a new economic stimulus plan to combat the effects of the coronavirus.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is “collecting ideas for next steps.” He said he and another economic adviser to Trump held conference calls with lawmakers from both parties on Friday and Monday.

Each party has identified priority provisions, although there is not agreement. There are dozens of provisions that could make their way into the next package. Those priorities include:

  • State, local and tribal funding.
  • Payroll tax cut.
  • Cash payments to Americans.
  • Liability protections for businesses.
  • Funds for hospitals, testing and hazard pay for workers.
  • More funds for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Infrastructure spending.

Pressure to reconcile the competing plans could intensify as Trump and lawmakers regroup after the country’s unemployment rate climbs toward 20 percent, a grim indicator underscoring the virus’ toll on American businesses and workers.

In related news, USDA is expected soon to roll out the final framework for its $16 billion direct payment program for farmers, which has been under review by the White House budget shop. One of the primary changes will be the limit on the size of payments.

The department initially planned to cap the relief checks at $125,000 per commodity and $250,000 per farmer, which matches the general farm payment caps that Congress approved in the 2018 farm bill. But after pressure from farm-state lawmakers and industry groups, Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week that USDA will increase the aid limits before the program is finalized this month.

Sources: Austin American-Statesman, Politico