Trump Threatens COVID-19 Stimulus Veto

Trump Plans to Veto COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Unless Congress Makes Changes

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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President Donald Trump has threatened to veto legislation passed by Congress that would provide relief to agriculture and biofuels. (DTN file photo by Nick Scalise)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The latest COVID-19 economic relief package may be heading toward a presidential veto. President Donald Trump on Tuesday indicated in a speech posted on Twitter that he doesn't support the $900 billion legislation that includes relief to agriculture and biofuels.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told agriculture journalists Wednesday morning that he's already on notice to possibly return early from Christmas break to Washington, D.C.

Grassley said he's hopeful Trump would "see some pressure to sign it."

"So, I hope he signs this in," Grassley said. "If he doesn't, then, in order to keep the government from shutting down, I've already been notified of the possibility of going back into session to override this veto. And I think it started out, not this bill but if he vetoes the defense bill, and we'll know by midnight if he vetoes the defense bill."

Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday, in part because it did not include a provision to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 gave the internet immunity from lawsuits based on content posted by third-party users, such as on social media.

Newsweek reported Wednesday that Trump would not veto the defense bill or the stimulus bill if Section 230 was repealed.

During a taped statement on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, Trump said the stimulus bill passed by Congress does little to help Americans.

"The bill also allows stimulus checks for the family members of illegal aliens, allowing them to get up to $1,800 each," he said.

"This is far more than the Americans are given. Despite all of this wasteful spending, and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments, and not enough money is given to small businesses. I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple. I'm also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill or the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package."

Grassley said a Trump veto would mean the federal government runs out of money on Dec. 29.

For agriculture, in particular, the bill provides about $13 billion in relief.

That includes nearly $1 billion to support a dairy donation program and supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage payments for small and medium-sized producers. More help would be made available to specialty- and non-specialty-crop growers, and the Paycheck Protection Program would be expanded, which would allow small farmers to continue operating and paying their employees.

Many farmers and ranchers who were previously left out of aid would now qualify for assistance, including growers who were forced to euthanize livestock during the initial wave of the pandemic.

The legislation also includes 80% reimbursement for losses because of premature livestock euthanization or canceled orders and $20 per planted acre for non-specialty crops. The American Farm Bureau Foundation said based on 2020 crop acres, it likely breaks down to $1.8 billion for corn producers; $1.66 billion for soybeans; $886 million for wheat; $242 million for cotton; and $116 million for sorghum.

For biofuels, the bill also would give USDA the authority to provide relief. Also, the measure would extend a number of critical tax credits for the industry, including a one-year extension of the Section 40 Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, a $1.01 credit per gallon of second-generation biofuel produced; and two-year extension of the Section 45Q Tax Credit, a credit on a per-ton basis of carbon dioxide that is sequestered.

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Todd Neeley