A strategy seems to be emerging to extend unemployment benefits in exchange for votes on the farm bill. Horsetrading, the old-fashioned way!
Now that Congress is set to leave town even as unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans are set to expire just after Christmas, is there any chance that Democrats can still prevail on Republicans to agree to extend them?
Dems who are pushing for an extension have hatched a new plan to do just that: Once Congress returns, they will refuse to support the reauthorization of the farm bill — which will almost certainly need Dem support to pass the House — unless Republicans agree to restart unemployment benefits with the farm bill’s savings.
“Under no circumstances should we support the farm bill unless Republicans agree to use the savings from it to extend unemployment insurance,” Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a top party strategist, told me today. “This is a potential pressure point. We’re going to have to resolve differences in the farm bill because otherwise milk prices will spike. If past is prologue, they are going to need a good chunk of Democrats to pass the farm bill.”
It's not just milk prices. It's SNAP benefits, right in the middle of the holiday season. That's why it seems a bit risky to me, but worth doing anyway if they can ultimately win.