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Farm Bill Defeated As Parties Point Fingers

In case you missed it, the farm bill was defeated in the House of Representatives last week with a vote of 234 to 195.

The mural on the inside of the U.S. Capitol Building's rotunda

Photo: Mark Kortum (flickr)

If you look closely at the mural inside the rotunda of the United States capitol building, Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture can be seen sitting atop a mechanical reaper. She has yet to issue a statement concerning the farm bill's most recent failure.

So much for the farm bill.

In case you missed it, last week the House of Representatives voted down the farm bill, sending the future of American agriculture and food stamps back into the unknown.

What Killed The Bill?

For the second time in two years, the farm bill died in the House after garnering bipartisan support in the Senate.

Cuts to food aid — both international and domestic — kept Democrats from agreeing to the bill.

Nearly half of the cuts in the House version of the bill came from food stamps, while amendments making food stamp availability more difficult were added.

Crop insurance and subsidies from the government kept more Republicans from voting yes, bolstering those against bigger government.

Farmers face an uncertain future, says American Soybean Association’s Danny Murphy. “Once again, the nation’s soybean farmers and the 23 million Americans whose jobs depend on agriculture are left holding the bag.”

Pundits And Partisans

With a vote of 234 to 195, the failure has both Republicans and Democrats pointing fingers. It took little time for pundits to hit their keyboards, penning scathing reviews of the failed bill.

With more than a quarter of the Republican caucus voting against the bill, “the failure was a stinging defeat for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who continues to have trouble marshaling the Republican support he needs to pass major legislation,” says Ron Nixon of the New York Times.

Others place the blame on the Democrats for making the bill partisan.

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post called the bill “inhumane,” and more about morality than spending, while Paul Roderick Gregory of Forbes argues that the inability to pass the farm bill is a shining example of “dysfunction” within the government.

In Its Wake

After the bill’s defeat, House Republicans pulled the U.S. Agriculture Department’s budget from the House calendar.

The Agriculture budget — which includes Food and Drug Administration and Commodity Futures Trading Commission funding — could stand a chance before the July 4 recess, as the House Rules Committee is still expected to consider it.

Senate leader Harry Reid has said he won’t let Congress simply extend the current legislation again.

Read More:

  • How the farm bill failed (POLITICO)
  • U.S. House must revive, pass stymied farm bill -USDA’s Vilsack (Reuters)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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