Where farm legislation will go after a 195 to 243 loss in the House remains uncertain
Yesterday afternoon, the farm bill was voted down in the House of Representatives by a surprisingly large margin of 195 to 234. While the bill was expected to be received unfavorably by the Democrats — who largely oppose the significant cuts the bill makes to nutrition programs like SNAP — 62 Republicans voted against the bill in addition to 172 Democrats. (You can see the individual breakdown here.)
Earlier this week, the Obama administration expressed several concerns with the farm bill, which didn’t bode well for the bill’s future, even if it had passed the House. Still, the bill’s failure in the House comes as a defeat and even an embarrassment for Speaker John Boehner, who last week pledged to vote in its favor.
A farm bill only comes to Congress every five years and now that the legislation has collapsed in the House, the question becomes: What now? Says Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), “We now face an uncertain future for farm policy.”
According to Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), “The House needs to find a way to get a five-year farm bill done.” The Senate version of the farm bill passed on June 10.
The next step, then, remains to be determined. The House Agriculture Committee is “accessing all [its] options.” Until the House makes a final decision — whether that is trying revive another House version or more simply assuming the Senate version — the path for farm legislation is unplowed.
The conservative lawmakers want a vote on immigration first.
Updated 05/18/2018 02:26 PM EDT
The House Freedom Caucus on Friday sank a partisan farm bill over an immigration dispute with GOP leadership, delaying a bill that included President Donald Trump's push to impose stricter work requirements on food stamp recipients.
The bill went down, 198-213, after leaders feverishly tried to flip conservative votes on the floor, even leaving the vote open for a time to try to change opponents' minds. It is a huge setback to the farm lobby and House Speaker Paul Ryan's welfare reform agenda.
The vote came after a 48-hour standoff between GOP leadership and members of the Freedom Caucus. The bloc of conservatives held the bill hostage, demanding that the House first vote on controversial immigration legislation in exchange for their support for the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation.
"It’s not a fatal blow, it’s just a reorganize,” said Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows. "I think at this point we just really need to deal with immigration in an effective way.”
Ryan’s team and Freedom Caucus leaders met late into Thursday to try and reach a deal. Earlier that day, the Freedom Caucus rejected the promise of an immigration vote in June, fearing leaders would break that agreement as they have in the past.
GOP leaders said they would delay a motion to reconsider the bill until a later date. It is unclear if they intend to try to pass the partisan bill again — or move to a bipartisan document that could easily clear the Senate.
“We’re not done with this,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters. “We’re going to continue until we get it done.”
In A Big Blow To Boehner, House Defeats Farm Bill
Today, the House defeated a Republican farm bill proposal on a 195-234 vote. The bill included cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, that were not in a version that easily passed the Senate last week, 66-27.
Opposition was bipartisan. Almost all Democrats voted no because they opposed the food stamp cuts. But 60 Republicans also voted against the bill, mostly because it didn't cut enough.
This is another demonstration of the impossible hand that Speaker John Boehner is playing. He wants his caucus to pass alternatives to Democratic policy proposals from the Senate. But the conservative wing of his caucus places high demands and is willing to vote against leadership-backed proposals.
If he doesn't meet their demands, he risks defeats like today's.
Conservative inflexibility leaves only two ways to get any legislation through the House. One is to design a bill that is so conservative it gets nearly all Republican support. Often, this means a bill that will be very unpopular with the public.
Another is to let the Democratic minority provide most of the votes, which means letting them dictate the contents of the bill. Boehner's use of Democrat-heavy to pass legislation on major policy matters—the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling increase, and quite possibly immigration reform—has led to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi getting the nickname "Speaker Pelosi."
There has to be a farm bill. Reauthorizing farm subsidies is (unfortunately) a political necessity, and so is reauthorizing food stamps. That leaves Boehner two options. He can come back with a bill that cuts food stamps more deeply. Or he can summon "Speaker Pelosi" to help him pass a bill that resembles the Senate version, which passed with widespread Democratic support and backing from nearly half of Republicans, too.
With farm bill defeat, Americans on hook for $147M a year to Brazilian cotton farmers
WASHINGTON – American taxpayers remain on the hook for millions of dollars to pay off Brazilian cotton farmers -- one of the more bizarre, and costly, consequences of the House of Representatives' failure to pass a massive farm bill on Thursday.
In a surprise defeat, the House on Thursday rejected the dense, 600-plus page bill. The bulk of the bill would have funded food stamps as well as a bundle of farm aid programs. But lawmakers were also hoping to use the legislation to resolve a long-running dispute between the United States and Brazil that is draining U.S. taxpayer dollars every year.
Specifically, the U.S. is paying the South American country $147 million annually. America has shelled out more than $4 billion to date to Brazil.
“I think the average taxpayer would be astounded if they knew how much we’re paying Brazil in bribe money,” said Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., who is trying to end what he describes as the "blackmail payments."
The money being sent to Brazil is part of the international fallout stemming from U.S. government subsidies for domestic cotton farmers. The U.S. is one of the world's largest cotton exporters and hands out $3 billion a year in subsidies.
About a decade ago, Brazil sued the U.S. before the World Trade Organization. In its complaint, Brazil claimed the U.S. government had subsidized American cotton farmers so much it would make it impossible for other countries to compete. The WTO sided with Brazil in 2004 and said the country had a right to impose punishing trade measures against America.
Under an interim settlement, the Brazilian government agreed to withhold additional retaliatory tariffs on non-agriculture products, in exchange for the payments, until a new farm bill that contains measures to modify the country’s current cotton program is passed and enacted.
That's where Kind's amendment came into play. While the farm bill would have changed the U.S. cotton program, Kind's amendment would in turn end the payments to Brazil. But the amendment was not included, and the bill did not pass.
“We have to keep it up because of our inability to reform our own cotton subsidy program," Kind told FoxNews.com.
While dropping the interim settlement is an option, many say that the retaliation could be worse. Brazil won the right to impose more than $800 million in retaliatory import taxes against U.S. industries including financial services and automobiles.
On Thursday, House lawmakers' rejection of the farm bill in turn delayed efforts to see the cotton dispute come to a close.
For Kind -- who has publicly criticized the WTO settlement -- continuing to pay Brazil isn’t a viable option.
“This is crazy, this is nuts,” he said during a committee hearing in June, while promoting his push to "change our domestic cotton program so we do come into compliance with WTO so we can end $150 million of basically blackmail payments to Brazil so they don’t level sanctions against us because of that WTO case.”
Even if the House resurrects the farm bill, and the provision addressing the Brazil case, the entire Congress would have to pass a unified bill and have it signed into law.
The Senate side has had more success. Last week, lawmakers passed its version of the bill which would spend $955 billion over the next decade. The price tag in the House version was lower due mostly to variations in food-stamp spending.
Tamara Hinton, the communications director for the House Agriculture Committee, said that the House bill is intended to eliminate the agreement between Brazil and the U.S., and end the payments.
“Our bill was written to resolve the issue with Brazil," she told FoxNews.com.
When the House might return to the bill is anyone's guess. The last time the House approved a farm bill was back in 2008. They failed to come to an agreement on its reauthorization last year, too.
For now, lawmakers will have to either start over on the farm bill or go to conference without a bill and try to negotiate with the Senate. If Congress fails to pass any type of farm bill by the end of the year, the country would go back to when the last permanent farm bill was enacted – in 1949.
Christine Harbin, a federal policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, faulted Congress for taking so long to address the issue. She told FoxNews.com that instead of fixing the problem, “the U.S. decided to pay off Brazil.”
“Little programs like this fly completely under the radar,” she said. “We’ve subsidized the cotton industry so much that we are become anti-competitive.”
FARM BILL VOTED BY A HOUSE PANEL Measure Awaits Action by the Rules Committee
WASHINGTON, March 10 (AP)—The House Agriculture Committee gave quick approval today to wheat legislation passed by the Senate.
The committee voted, 20 to 13, on straight party lines. It acted after House leaders held strategy talks on the measure with President Johnson last night.
Republicans denounced the committee action as “railroading and said that four amendments they offered had been defeated on similar party votes.
The ranking Republican, Representative Charles B. Hoeven of Iowa, complained of “strongarm and arm‐twisting tactics” and said, “I assume perhaps that Mr. Johnson recommended this procedure.”
Apparently the reason for bringing the bill to a quick committee vote was to try to forestall Republican criticism that the full committee had never considered the bill. A House version had been reported to the committee by a subcommittee “without recommendation” and no further action had been taken until today.
What the committee approved today was a wheat section the Senate had added to the cotton bill already passed by the House.
The measure now goes to the House Rules Committee, which will be asked to clear two other bills with it. The other bills are a food stamp program desired by Representatives from the large cities and a tobacco research bill desired by Southern Democrats.
House leaders had hoped that the Rules Committee, which schedules bills from floor action would clear the three measures tomorrow.
However, in mid‐afternoon the Rules Committee announced a schedule for tomorrow that included only an unrelated bill.
The Rules Committee chairman, Representative Howard W. Smith, Democratic of Virginia, declined to say when he might schedule the farm bill. Another commi ttee member said the measuer, s could still come up tomorrow.
Late in the day, a spokesman for the Agricultire Committee chairman, Representative Harold D. Cooley, Democratic of North Carolina, said Mr. Cooley did not expect to appear before the Rules Committee tomorrow but hoped to get a hearing Thursday. There was no definite arrangement, however.
The Rules Committee is expected to be asked to clear the way for the House to vote on accepting the Senate‐passed wheat‐cotton bill without change. This would send it to Mr. Johnson's desk quickly if the votes could be mustered by the Democratic leadership. Top members have said that a vote would be very close.
Farm bill setback opens House GOP up to new attacks about ability to lead
The surprising defeat of the farm bill is the latest setback for Republican leaders, who have struggled for two-and-a-half years to use their majority to pass major legislation out of the House.
Speaker John Boehner John Andrew BoehnerBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE (R-Ohio) had hoped to use the extended farm bill process to demonstrate the wisdom of his commitment to “regular order” — allowing the measure to emerge from the Agriculture Committee and face dozens of amendments on the House floor.
Instead, the rare floor defeat on legislation supported by Boehner John Andrew BoehnerBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE and his entire leadership team allowed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to gleefully call her GOP counterparts amateurs in running the House.
It also renewed questions about Boehner's ability to lead his fractious conference.
If the House GOP cannot move a farm bill, how will it move immigration reform or a debt ceiling deal?
GOP leaders blamed Democrats and insisted their whip counts were accurate, even as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who helped whip support for the bill, said he was surprised at the 62 GOP defections.
“I was surprised by about half of them,” he said. “I thought they would have taken more of a 10,000-foot view.”
In a private meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday, Boehner cited the farm bill process to describe how he intended to move immigration reform through the House, according to Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).
The Senate seems poised to pass an immigration bill with bipartisan support as early as next week, a move that will put pressure on the House to move forward with its own legislation.
The Senate had already approved a farm bill, and Boehner hoped to match the upper chamber by passing agriculture legislation after dodging a floor vote on the bill last year.
But in a matter of minutes Thursday, the long months of negotiations, hearings and amendments on the farm bill collapsed in a stinging and embarrassing loss for Boehner’s vision.
“What [was] happening on the floor today was a demonstration of major amateur hour,” a visibly giddy Pelosi told reporters. “They didn't get results, and they put the blame on somebody else.”
Pelosi described the stewardship of the bill as “juvenile” and wondered why Republican leaders would allow conservatives a vote on two amendments she described as poison pills if some of those members were still going to oppose the final bill.
The first controversial amendment, championed by Boehner, eliminated government production limits on dairy processors. The second, sponsored Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), empowered states to require food stamp beneficiaries to seek work while on the program.
Pelosi noted that 61 Republicans voted for the Southerland amendment, then voted against the final bill.
“It's a stunning thing,” she said. “Why would you give people an amendment that's going to kill your bill?”
Privately, some GOP lawmakers offered assessments in line with Pelosi’s.
“We can’t even do a f****** farm bill,” groused one frustrated GOP lawmaker, who predicted the House Republican approval rating would drop further.
Boehner earlier on Thursday poked at Senate Democrats for not moving legislation to prevent a hike in student loan interest rates. The House has approved legislation that Boehner argues is similar to proposals from President Obama.
Passing the farm bill might have underlined an image of a House working its will. Instead, the student loan argument was drowned out by the failure of the farm bill, which left lobbyists for the legislation filled with angst.
“We are going to be redoubling our efforts,” one lobbyist told The Hill. “Our job as agriculture is to go to the House and say, 'Mr. Speaker, what is your plan for getting this done?'”
It wasn’t just Tea Party Republicans who voted against the bill.
Six committee chairmen voted "no," including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte Robert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.), the author of the dairy amendment backed by Boehner.
The other chairmen who voted against the bill were Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan Paul Davis RyanPaul Ryan to headline Kinzinger fundraiser Biden's relationship with top House Republican is frosty The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE (R-Wis.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Veterans Affairs Committee Chairmen Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).
“It’s a tough business,” Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) said.
He promised that next week’s closed-door meeting of House Republicans would be “real interesting.”
For Democrats, the display played right into an emerging theme of their 2014 campaign — that of a Republican Congress “in chaos” that can’t be trusted to govern and can’t produce results.
“If Leader Pelosi was Speaker Pelosi, this would never have happened,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said as Pelosi stood smiling next to him.
In the Senate, Democrats gloated that they have already passed a farm bill with bipartisan support, while GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley Chuck GrassleyGOP senators introduce bill to reimpose waived Nord Stream sanctions Senate panel advances Biden's first group of judicial nominees Biden tries to navigate fits and starts of economic recovery MORE (Iowa) tweeted it was unfortunate the House did not pass a bill.
“On nearly every major issue, the House has rightly accepted the bipartisan work of the Senate," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Harry Mason ReidLongtime Nevada political reporter to pen Harry Reid biography Lobbying world Strange bedfellows: UFOs are uniting Trump's fiercest critics, loyalists MORE (D-Nev.) said in a statement.
"Speaker Boehner should take the same commendable approach now, and do the right thing for farmers and Americans who rely on nutrition assistance by passing the Senate’s bipartisan farm bill."
House rejects farm bill, 195-234
In a blow to House GOP leaders, the House on Thursday rejected a five-year farm bill.
Members voted down the $940 billion bill in a 195-234 vote that only won 24 Democratic votes. Most Democrats voted against the bill because it cut food stamp programs by more than $20 billion.
Many Republicans also voted no, but for a different reason. They said it was too expensive a bill to pass when the country has $17 trillion in debt.
In the final vote, 62 Republicans opposed the bill, and with the Democratic defections, that was enough to send it to defeat.
The final tally was delayed for several minutes as GOP leaders held the vote open, while Democrats called for the vote to close.
The vote is a blow to Speaker John Boehner John Andrew BoehnerBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders who for two years have failed to move farm policy forward. The issue has badly divided Republicans.
Immediately after the vote, Republicans were apoplectic at what they characterized as a betrayal by Democratic leaders, who did not deliver the votes they promised.
"The Democrats walked away from this," Boehner John Andrew BoehnerBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE , who cast a rare vote in favor of the bill, told The Hill as he walked off the House floor.
He would not answer further questions as he returned to his office.
The chief Republican vote-counter, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), also blamed Democrats and said the bill could come back to the floor next week, with changes. "We can correct it if [Democrats] are not going to help us," he said after the vote.
McCarthy's comment suggests GOP leaders wil seek to make the bill more appealing to conservatives.
Republicans had expected Democrats to deliver 40 votes for the bill. But a GOP aide said at the last moment, Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said they could not produce that many because of pressure from Democratic leaders and the White House, which had threatened to veto the bill over the food stamp cuts.
Peterson blamed the approval of two amendments for the failure.
One of the amendments — backed by Boehner — ended production limits on dairy producers that were a part of the underlying bill.
The second, sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), allowed states to require food stamp beneficiaries to either work or look for work.
"I told Cantor that Southerland cost us 15 votes," Peterson said, referring to Majority Leader Eric Cantor Eric Ivan CantorVirginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' White House says bills are bipartisan even if GOP doesn't vote for them MORE (R-Va.). "A lot of people came up to me and said, I'm with you, but I'm out now."
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a conservative charged with whipping GOP votes for the bill, was surprised by the number of GOP defections.
"I was surprised by about half of them," he said. "I thought they would have taken more of a 10,000 foot view. We are ending direct payments in this bill, we are starting to reveres the obscene growth of the food stamp program."
King blamed key vote alerts from Heritage Action and Club for Growth for hurting the bill and also acknowledged that the Boehner-backed dairy amendment and Southerland food stamp work requirement cost key Democratic support.
King said that the path forward is unclear.
"There is going to be a staring contest now because unless Congress acts the 1949 farm bill goes back into effect," he said.
The 1949 law contains archaic farm subsidy supports seen as unworkable in today's world. Currently, rural America is using the 2008 farm bill which was retroactively extended in the New Year's fiscal cliff deal. It expires Sept. 30.
Democrats have blasted the $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts all week as cruel, while Republicans said more cuts are needed to eliminate fraud and ensure people aren't becoming dependent on the program.
"[W]hen we see the expansion of the dependency class in America, and you add this to the 79 other means-tested welfare programs that we have in the United States … each time you add another brick to that wall, it's a barrier to people that might go out and succeed," King said during Wednesday's debate.
Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to restore the cuts, which was rejected in a 188-234 vote.
"It always is a wonderment to me, that in this, the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world, that one in four or one in five children goes to sleep hungry at night," Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said just before that vote, in an effort to encourage the additional funding.
Stunning farm bill defeat lays bare House dysfunction
The farm bill failed to pass the House Thursday after Republicans began tinkering with the measure, driving off Democrats who otherwise would have voted for it.
The dysfunctional House of Representatives claimed another legislative victim on Thursday: the farm bill.
Once believed to be a nearly sure-fire bipartisan achievement for Congress this year, the five-year, nearly $1 trillion farm bill unexpectedly went down in flames in the House on Thursday in a 195 to 234 vote, sending a shockwave through rural lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol.
The Republican-led House managed a difficult feat, offering enough conservative amendments to siphon expected Democratic support for the bill while not holding the line in their own caucus enough to move the bill move forward.
“If you overreach, you get nothing, and that’s what we’ve been trying to tell people,” said Rep. Collin Peterson (D) of Minnesota, the top liberal on the House Agriculture Committee, who has worked with Chairman Frank Lucas (R) of Oklahoma to pass the bill and who voted for final passage.
"You carry this too far and you get no reduction in the deficit, you get no reform of the farm programs, you will continue food stamps just exactly like they are with no changes, you will get crop insurance with no changes, that’s exactly where we are at," Representative Peterson said. "We warned people – if you take things too far, sometimes it blows up on you."
In Israel, Arabs and Jews alike recoil from mob violence
The Senate passed its own farm bill in June, 66 to 27. That raised hopes that the House would be able to move its own measure and allow the differences – chiefly, the size of cuts to food stamp programs and policy questions about crop insurance and direct payments to farmers – to be ironed out in a conference between the two chambers.
But without an incredible turn of events, a farm bill that lawmakers in both chambers herald as a jobs bill for rural America looks to be dead for the 113th Congress.
The farm bill, 80 percent of which is devoted to federal food support known as SNAP, is a complex beast of legislation. The bill pits regional agricultural interests against one another and creates competition between farmers and processors of agricultural products. Moreover, in recent years, it has drawn the ire of conservative lawmakers and outside groups who say the bill has become too broad in order to appeal to different groups – combining the nutrition programs vital to urban legislators and the farm support subsidies and insurance dear to rural lawmakers. (They add that the subsidies distort the free market, to boot.)
While it looked like Representatives Lucas and Peterson had found a way to stitch together a bill, it all fell apart Thursday afternoon.
The disappointment is two years in the making.
Last year, House leadership refused to bring a farm bill to the floor, fearing both that it didn’t have the votes to pass and that it could expose Republicans to criticisms from their conservative colleagues during an election year. (The Senate, however, managed to pass a farm bill by a large bipartisan margin.)
This year, about 60 Republicans quit their caucus and pulled against the bill, versus only 24 Democrats who voted in favor, sinking the measure.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R) of South Dakota, an agriculture committee member who voted for the bill, summarized the split after the vote.
"While a majority of Republicans voted for the bill, there were too many that walked away because it didn’t cut enough, or because it wasn’t perfect enough in some way. And despite the strong bipartisan support this Farm Bill received a few weeks ago in the Agriculture Committee, only 24 Democrats voted for the bill today, largely because the less than 3 percent cut in food stamps was too much,” she said.
Yet Republicans also pushed through a handful of amendments that turned almost half the 40 Democratic votes Peterson thought he had in hand.
With Democrats already smarting at the magnitude of cuts to SNAP (the House offered $20 billion in reductions, while the Senate offered $4 billion), House Republicans muscled through an amendment allowing states to increase work requirements for eligibility in the program. They further alienated some lawmakers with dairy farmers in their districts through another amendment sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) of Virginia.
Republicans said Democrats acted in bad faith, pulling their support at the last moment to embarrass Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, who publicly backed the bill beyond what is typical for speakers.
“If they had an issue that they thought was going to derail this at the last minute, they had plenty of time to bring it up,” says Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia.
Could the farm bill rise again?
“That’s not been determined yet,” Lucas said, “there will be a next step.”
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But given the outbreak of partisan recrimination in the vote’s aftermath, that will take more than twisting some arms.
Peterson said: “It’s bruised feelings, too, that we have to somehow or another overcome.”
Farm Bill Defeated on House Floor- Recap
Siobhan Hughes and Jesse Newman reported on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that, “The House defeated a Republican-written farm bill on Friday after GOP leaders couldn’t win over a bloc of their party’s most conservative lawmakers, who were demanding a separate vote soon on a measure to toughen immigration enforcement.
“The conservatives, members of the House Freedom Caucus, broke with their party even as leaders tried to persuade them that an immigration measure they wanted to bring to the floor would come up in June as part of a series of other immigration votes. The group instead wanted an immediate vote on a specific bill that would reduce legal immigration and add enforcement measures.
“As a result, the farm bill was defeated, with 198 lawmakers in favor and 213 opposed. Thirty Republicans joined 183 Democrats in opposition.”
The Journal article noted that, “House GOP leaders needed most Republicans to stay on board because Democrats had already opposed the bill, objecting to new work requirements that would be imposed on food-stamp recipients.”
Politico writers Catherine Boudreau, Helena Bottemiller Evich, Rachael Bade, and Liz Crampton reported Friday that, “Rejection of the legislation is reminiscent of the last farm bill cycle in 2013, when the House also voted down a conservative version of the legislation, delaying the process for months. Ultimately, the sweeping bill was bailed out by Democrats the following year.”
The Politico article also reminded readers, “[Friday’s] vote came after a 48-hour standoff between GOP leadership and members of the Freedom Caucus. The bloc of conservatives held the bill hostage, demanding that the House first vote on controversial immigration legislation in exchange for their support for the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation.”
Reuters writers Amanda Becker and Susan Cornwell pointed out Friday that, “House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were seen on the floor of the chamber negotiating with Freedom Caucus lawmakers as the farm bill vote was under way.”
And Glenn Thrush and Thomas Kaplan reported on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times,
In reality, the farm bill, which has huge implications for low-income families and the agricultural industry, largely became a bargaining chip in the heated intraparty battle over immigration, President Trump’s core cultural and political issue.
The Times article noted, “The House’s farm bill was already destined to be set aside by the Senate, which has been working on its own bipartisan measure. The farm legislation will need 60 votes in the Senate, meaning that Republicans, even if they are unified, will not be able to pass a partisan bill in that chamber.”
A Farm Bill is necessary to provide farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers with the stability and predictability they need. Our farmers feed the people of this nation and the world, and they deserve the certainty of a Farm Bill.
&mdash Sec. Sonny Perdue (@SecretarySonny) May 18, 2018
Saturday’s article added, “[House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.)] and other mainstream Republicans from rural areas wanted to preserve backbone agricultural supports while fighting back challenges from the right to reduce subsidies. But he also sought to accommodate the White House and outside conservative groups, which demanded new election-year initiatives to reduce the rolls of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which Mr. Trump regards, along with Medicaid and housing aid, as ‘welfare.'”
Washington Post writers Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis reported on the front page of Saturday’s paper that, “The farm bill had nothing to do with immigration, but House conservatives used it to try to regain leverage that they had been losing behind the scenes as party centrists worked to force a vote on a bill that would legalize young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.”
The Associated Press reported on Friday that, “As for the farm bill’s fate, the debacle appears to make it even more likely that Congress will simply extend the current farm bill when it expires in September.”
And Bloomberg writers Alan Bjerga and Erik Wasson reported Friday that, “President Donald Trump ‘is disappointed in the result of today’s vote,’ Lindsay Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement. Trump supported adding work requirements to the food stamp program. The administration ‘will continue to work with Congress to pass a farm bill on time.'”
Farm Bill- Amendments
In his weekly Email newsletter, House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) explained that, “This week the House of Representatives considered the farm bill, and a number of amendments. I worked to defeat an amendment that would have devastated the domestic sugar industry and the thousands of jobs it supports in Minnesota.”
From written Testimony of William Cole, Chairman, Crop Insurance Professionals Association- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry United States Senate, July 25, 2017.
Rep. Peterson added, “I also fought against an amendment that would have made cuts to crop insurance as well as dairy and commodity safety net programs. These programs provide a critical backstop to protect against market swings and unpredictable weather which can wipe away a year of hard work in a blink of the eye. I was glad to soundly defeat these amendments because they are bad for agriculture and they make it harder to get a farm bill signed into law in the future.”
House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway also referenced votes on in the amendment process on Friday. In a statement, he noted that, “We experienced a setback today after a streak of victories all week.”
In addition, Brownfield’s Larry Lee reported last week that, “A House Farm Bill amendment from Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood received strong support from Democrats and Republicans Thursday. ‘Under our amendment, farmers will be able and be eligible for a one-time sign-up for ARC and PLC for the duration of the five-year farm bill so long as there are no changes to the current farming operation.’
Base Acres by Commodity, 2014 Farm Bill. “Farm Safety-Net Payments Under the 2014 Farm Bill: Comparison by Program Crop,” Congressional Research Service (August 11, 2017).
“LaHood told House members his One and-Done proposal would save farmers valuable time. ‘The amount of time spent filling out paperwork for these programs, even when there is no change to their farming operation, takes up too much time, too much of their valuable time which could be used on their farms.'”
Farm Bill- Going Forward
DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom and DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported Friday, “The setback adds to the possibility of an extension that could complicate farmers’ ability to switch commodity programs next fall for their base acres. Declining revenue guarantees for the Agricultural Revenue Coverage (ARC) have led to the likelihood that farmers enrolled in ARC are looking for the chance to switch at least some farms to Price Loss Coverage (PLC) for their safety net.”
Schnitkey, G., J. Coppess, C. Zulauf, and N. Paulson. “Estimated 2017 ARC-CO Payments.” farmdoc daily (8):34, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, February 27, 2018 (https://goo.gl/z3fCwH).
Hagstrom and Clayton pointed out that, “Peterson said that the bill can still get done this year, but an extension would have only two problems:
farmers’ inability to change from the Agricultural Risk Coverage to the Price Loss Coverage program, and no increase in acreage under the Conservation Reserve Program. The dairy program has already been fixed, he said.
And Bloomberg writers Alan Bjerga and Erik Wasson reported on Saturday that, “Some Democrats see an opportunity amid the Republican disarray, saying that if Ryan were willing to eliminate the new food stamp rules, they could help pass a bill.
“‘This is a good opportunity for us to return to the table and fix this bill before we move forward,’ said Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.”
The Bloomberg article added, “Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 3 House Republican, said leaders would continue to seek to address Freedom Caucus immigration concerns to get the farm legislation passed. ‘The farm bill is an important bill. We’re not done with it,’ he said.”
House splits nutrition title out of farm bill farm-only bill passes 216-208
WASHINGTON — After suffering a rather stinging defeat the first time the farm bill came to the House floor for a vote, House Republicans regrouped and bowed to pressure to ungroup the federal food and nutrition programs from the farm legislation.
The result was passage of the revamped H.R. 2642, another five-year farm bill that did not include the nutrition title. While the farm bill was on the floor, it was debated under a closed rule, which means no amendments were considered.
The bill passed July 11, by a 216-208 vote.
Voting for the farm-only farm bill were 216 Republicans and 0 Democrats Voting against the bill were 12 Republicans and 194 Democrats. Eleven members did not vote.
The Ohio and Pennsylvania delegation members all voted along party lines.
When approved by the conference committee and voted on once again by both the House and the Senate, the legislation will repeal and replace the permanent law for commodities that dates to 1938 and 1949.
“Our farm and food stamp programs need reform,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement after the vote. “The status quo is unacceptable, which is why I voted against most of the farm bills of the past two decades, and supported this one.”
What about food stamps?
Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said the nutrition title, Title IV, that was removed from the bill that passed, will go back to the ag committee for round two.
The goal, he said during a speech on the floor prior to the vote, is to craft a bill that can be passed on the House floor, and then both the farm bill and the nutrition bill will go to the conference committee to reconcile with the Senate’s farm bill, which is a single piece of legislation that passed easily with a vote of 66 to 27.
He also warned, however, that if a nutrition title is not finalized, the program’s reform could also be taken up in the appropriations process, specifically by the ag appropriations subcommittee chaired by Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.
Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., the minority leader on the House ag committee, said splitting the farm bill sets the stage for “draconian cuts to nutrition programs and eliminating future farm bills altogether.”
The House Majority’s decision “would be laughable if it weren’t true,” Peterson said in a statement after the vote.
“I firmly believed that if we could find a way to remove the partisan amendments adopted during the House farm bill debate, we would be able to advance a bipartisan bill, conference with the Senate and see it signed into law this year. Now all that is in question.”
On the same days as the vote, a group of 17 Senators, including Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to oppose any split in the legislation during conferencing.