What is in this article?:
- House farm bill goes down 195-234.
- A loser despite Republican leadership backing.
- Aftermath includes finger-pointing, accusations.
Blame game starts early
Shortly after the floor cleared, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer got into a heated exchange after Cantor blamed Democrats for the farm bill’s failure.
“The problem is that 62 Republicans voted against the bill,” said an irritated Hoyer, who implied the “draconian” Southerland amendment was the last nail in the coffin for the Democrats who voted nay. “We turned a bipartisan bill into a partisan bill. ... I wasn’t going to bring up what happened today. But what happened is you turned a bipartisan bill – necessary for our farmers, necessary for our consumers, necessary for the people of America that many of us would have supported – into a partisan bill.
“Very frankly, 58 of the 62 Republicans that voted against your (farm) bill voted for the (Southerland) amendment, which made the bill even more egregious.”
Cantor, from Virginia, said the Southerland amendment “reflects what many of us believe is a successful formula to apply to a program that, in the eyes of the (Government Accounting Office), is in dire need of improvement because of error rates and waste and other things.
“In addition, it reflects our strong belief that able-bodied people should have the opportunity and should be a productive citizen. That’s what the amendment said.”
Cantor then stuck his thumb a bit deeper into Hoyer’s eye socket. “What we saw today was a Democratic leadership that insisted on undoing years and years of bipartisan work on an issue like the farm bill.”
The duo engaged in another 15 minutes of heated back-and-forth before Hoyer got the last word. “We will take no blame for the failure of the farm bill. None. Zero. As much as you try to say it, you can’t get away from the (fact) that 62 – 25 percent of your party – voted against the bill. That’s also why we didn’t bring it to the floor (in 2012) when it was also reported out (of the House Agriculture Committee) on a bipartisan fashion.”
Hoyer’s views were backed by a somber Peterson, who said, the bill failed because “House Republicans could not control the extreme right wing of their party. From day one I cautioned my colleagues that to pass a farm bill we would have to work together. Instead, the House adopted a partisan amendment process, playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law.
“This flies in the face of nearly four years of bipartisan work done by the (House) Agriculture Committee. I’ll continue to do everything I can to get a farm bill passed but I have a hard time seeing where we go from here.”
Lucas, in a statement, took the high road. "On this day, on this vote, the House worked its will. I’m obviously disappointed, but the reforms in (the farm bill) -- $40 billion in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to SNAP since 1996 -- are so important that we must continue to pursue them. We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need.”
In the Senate, which passed its version of the farm bill 66 to 27 earlier this month, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “(Boehner) needs to work in a bipartisan way and present a bill that Democrats and Republicans can support. He could start by bringing the Senate bill to the floor for a vote.
"Maintaining the status quo means no reform, no deficit reduction, and further uncertainty that slows growth in our agriculture industry. This is totally unacceptable.”