House votes down farm bill
Article is below for the farmers that are getting the $68/acre in Crop Insurance and Direct Payments for being in the Farm Program:
House votes down farm bill
Disagreement on $2 billion cut to food stamps has parties pointing fingers
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House failed to pass a sweeping five-year farm bill with sharp cuts to food stamps, a surprising development that sets the stage for an uphill fight in Congress to craft a new law.
The Republican-led House soundly rejected a $500 billion measure by a vote of 195-234, failing to muster enough support from Democrats and Republicans concerned over the size of the cuts to the country’s popular food stamp program.
Top leaders on both sides of the aisle quickly engaged in a contentious bout of finger pointing. Republicans claimed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi failed to deliver the Democratic votes she promised, while Democrats pinned the blame on the GOP for its inability to bring enough support from the more than 60 members within their own party who opposed the bill.
“We clearly have a profound disagreement. Don’t blame Democrats for the loss today,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “The reason the bill lost today is because 62 of your members rejected” a call to support the legislation.
Congress failed to pass a bill last year after GOP leaders in the House were reluctant to call for a vote because they did not think they had the 218 votes necessary to pass it. Lawmakers were forced to extend the old farm law through Sept. 30. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told reporters that House GOP leaders were mulling their options this time around, which could include voting on the farm bill passed by the Senate last week or moving forward on an extension.
House Republicans had expressed confidence in recent days that they had enough votes to pass the bill, but some of the blame Thursday was directed toward a pair of amendments, including one that would have required food stamp recipients to either work or look for work, for leading some members of Congress to withdraw their support.
An aggressive push by the White House, which threatened Monday to veto the bill, likely led some other Democrats to change their minds. Still, farm bill supporters were confident they could muster 40 to 60 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill. Instead, they garnered only 24.
“I believe we thought the votes were there. Our numbers looked good,” Noem said. “We thought that the Republican side was certainly bringing the votes that we could count on. What we really underestimated was the Democratic votes.”
Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, one of the few Democrats to support the bill, said he was “angry and frustrated” that members of the House failed to recognize the importance of passing a bill to support farmers and rural America. “While this farm bill was far from perfect, the best way to fix its flaws is to work together to find common ground — not reject it entirely and start from nothing,” he said. Iowa’s other three representatives also voted for the House bill.
The Senate bill would collectively reduce spending by about $2.4 billion annually, compared with $3.8 billion in the failed House bill. Almost half the savings in the House bill would have come from a reduction in food stamp spending — the first major overhaul to the program since 1996.
The Senate and House farm bills were largely similar when it comes to farm policy issues, with both measures streamlining conservation programs, expanding the federally subsidized crop insurance program and slashing subsidy payments — including the elimination of the $5 billion a year in direct payments doled out to farmers regardless of whether they grow crops. In a bid to help Southern growers who depend on direct payments, each bill would set higher support prices for rice and peanut farmers, meaning growers would see subsidy payments kick in sooner.
But the divide between the two chambers on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will likely continue to be a sticking point in determining whether the farm bill passes.
The Senate has approved cuts of about $400 million a year, and the House bill included a reduction of more than $2 billion, or about 3 percent of annual spending. Republicans have pushed for even deeper cuts while Democrats have argued that a major spending reduction would hurt the 48 million Americans who depend on the program. Opponents of trimming food stamps have said millions of American senior citizens, people with disabilities, children or working moms and dads of those kids would no longer be able to participate in the program.
“I know that not everyone, everyone has in this final bill exactly what they want. I know some of my very conservative friends think that it doesn’t go far enough in the name of reform. I know some of my liberal friends think it goes too far in addressing the needs of people,” Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said shortly before the vote. “But I would say this to all of you, ultimately this body has to do its work. Ultimately, we have to move a product.”
Farm groups expressed disappointment at the surprise defeat that has left their members struggling to plan ahead without knowing what agricultural policy will be. “Today’s failure leaves the entire food and agriculture sector in the lurch,” said Danny Murphy, president of the American Soybean Association. “Once again, the nation’s soybean farmers and the 23 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture are left holding the bag.”
Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs with the Environmental Working Group, said the failure to pass a new farm law should be a wake-up call to lawmakers. “The full House was right to reject a bloated farm bill that increases subsidies for the largest and most successful farm businesses, while needlessly cutting programs designed to help feed the hungry and protect the environment,” he said. “Many lawmakers simply couldn’t support a bill that lacked real reforms.”