Schumer blasts Trump's farm aid: It's like 'a soviet-style program'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted the administration's plan to offer financial aid to farmers impacted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE's protracted trade battle, calling it a "bailout" and comparing it to a "soviet-style program."

"The president's bailout is like a soviet-style program where the government props up an entire sector of the economy. And that characterization is one that I spoke of this morning to several colleagues, and I've now been told one of my Republican colleagues used the same characterization," Schumer said during a Senate floor speech, referring to comments from GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (Wis.). 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering $12 billion in aid to farmers hindered by retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. grain, produce and meat exports. The aid will be used to assist and buy crops from farmers, who say they've been hit hard by Trump's trade policies. 

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Senators, including GOP lawmakers, blasted the decision, arguing it didn't solve what they view as the real problem: Trump's tariff policies. The administration has slapped steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, sparking retaliatory penalties from key trading partners.

Several Republican senators characterized the financial aid as "welfare," with lawmakers repeatedly telling reporters after the decision that "farmers want trade, not aid."

Schumer added on Wednesday that Trump is "chasing his own tail" and "picking [economic] winners and losers." 

"The bailout is another example of President Trump lighting a fire and grabbing the nearest thing off the shelf to douse it and then patting himself on the back as to what a great guy he's been. It's not good policy. It's not good politics," he said. 

Though lawmakers have been vocally critical of Trump's trade decisions, they've been wary of directly confronting Trump.

The Senate took a symbolic shot at Trump's trade policy earlier this month. Senators are also mulling legislation that would narrow the national security provisions of the trade law, known as Section 232, but those talks have been simmering for weeks. 

Trump is meeting with a group of GOP lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss trade and the agricultural community.