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

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) blasted the administration's plan to offer financial aid to farmers impacted by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report 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 JohnsonTrump administration floats background check proposal to Senate GOP Republicans wary of US action on Iran Democratic senator warns O'Rourke AR-15 pledge could haunt party for years 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.