COVID relief remains murky

COVID relief negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin remain ongoing, but an agreement remains uncertain. On Thursday, Pelosi objected to proceeding with a standalone measure to help airlines unless the administration also agreed to a broader aid package.

“I have been very open to having a single standalone bill for the airlines or part of a bigger bill, but there is no standalone bill without a bigger bill,” she said.

The Democrat-controlled House already passed a $2.2 trillion aid package, but its chances in the Senate remain uncertain and Mnuchin previously countered with a $1.6 trillion proposal. However, midday on Friday, the White House indicated it had a new $1.8 trillion proposal. Pelosi and Mnuchin were expected to discuss the proposal later in the day.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, President Trump injected further uncertainty into the negotiations when he abruptly postponed talks until after the November election, but then reversed course on Thursday, noting negotiations have continued.

The National Pork Producers Council and other agricultural organizations continue to press for a deal that includes the following priorities: 1) compensation for euthanized and donated hogs; 2) additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners; 3) modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding; 4) additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and; 5) extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it useful to more producers.

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