Senate includes aid for farmers in fall budget to offset tariffs

WASHINGTON (CN) — Passing a budget that will fund the government through November, the Senate on Thursday included financial support for farmers meant to offset tariffs from the ongoing trade war with China.

The bill, which will head to the president’s desk after an 82-15 vote, will fund most government programs at levels from the previous fiscal year. Some programs that were scheduled to expire this fiscal year — including the National Flood Insurance Program, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program — are getting extensions.

Senator Tom Carper complained meanwhile about the bill’s failure to address the nation’s national debt, expected to climb to $1 trillion in the next fiscal year.

“Our day of reckoning is coming,” Carper said before the vote.

The Delaware Democrat said he had always been a supporter of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and believed leadership should have followed their spending plan first released in 2010.

Carper also said he had submitted a study to other lawmakers that details the $4 billion cost of the previous four government shutdowns.

“Right now, it is what it is, we are not going to shut down the government,” Carper said. “A demoralized workforce is something we don’t want to go through again.”

Senator Chris Van Hollen said the provision within the resolution to continue Department of Agriculture payments to American farmers would be included in a full appropriations bill, if one heads to the Senate floor.

“I much prefer that we pass a full appropriations bill on time, but a continuing resolution is certainly better than a government shutdown,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer said on the floor Thursday that lawmakers now needed to work toward a full appropriations process.

“Now that Republican leaders have shown the president they tried to get his wall again; now that the Senate has taken two proxy votes on the wall again this work period — neither of which came close to passing — it’s time for Leader McConnell, Chairman Shelby and our Republican colleagues on the appropriations committee to sit down with Democrats and get a bipartisan process moving again,” Schumer said.

Senator Rand Paul brought an amendment Thursday that would cut federal spending by 2 percent across the board, “so we can actually be responsible and try to balance our budget.” The amendment would eventually fail, 24-73.

“Why do we have a massive deficit? Why are we breaking records? Why in February did we have more deficit added then any time in our history? Why are we about to bust $1 trillion in deficit this year?” the Kentucky Republican asked. “It’s spending, it isn’t revenue.”