The House passes the “updated” farm bill, with zero drama

posted at 4:01 pm on January 29, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

For all of the to-do in Congress last year about finally separating out the food-stamp and agricultural-subsidy components that make up the omnibus disaster that is the federal “farm bill,” the version on which the House and Senate conferees have since been laboring (with the persistent and irate input of just about every food- and agriculture-based lobby under the sun) sailed through the House this morning with very little legislative fanfare. Neither the GOP nor the Democrats decided to make a stink about it this time, probably preferring to get into another fight over it during this phase of delicate pre-midterms politics, via Politico:

Given up for dead just months ago, a new five-year farm bill cleared the House Wednesday morning, raising hopes that Congress can send it on to President Barack Obama no later than next week.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow wants to complete Senate debate before next Wednesday, and the strength of the 251-166 House vote could mean the Michigan Democrat will meet her goal even sooner.

Filling hundreds of pages, the giant measure combines a landmark rewrite of commodity programs together with bipartisan reforms and savings from food stamps. It caps years of struggle spanning two Congresses, a political saga largely ignored by the national press and White House but one that fractured the old farm and food coalition as never before.

Given this history, the breadth of support Wednesday was all the more striking. Republicans, including Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), backed the measure 162-63. A narrow majority of Democrats opposed the bill, but among the 89 who backed the measure were the party’s very top leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C), the assistant Democratic leader.

The total ten-year cost is pegged at more than $950 billion, and while the legislation’s apologists are congratulating themselves on the reduction in food-stamp spending (…by one percent, to a program whose enrollment has nearly doubled in just the past five years) and the almost-elimination of direct payments to farmers (…which is partially balanced out by the increases to the federal crop-insurance program), this is in essence still just a recently metastasized welfare program couple with a couple hundred billion dollars in market-busting corporate pork for large agribusinesses. MSMers are hailing the development as Congress “finally coming together and getting something done,” but… I would interpret this as pretty much an enforcement of the status quo and just about the opposite of “getting something done.”

I have a hard time seeing the Senate raising any kind of ruckus over the legislation when the House is already on board, so meet your new agricultural policy for at least the next five years, America — which is more or less the same as the old agricultural policy.

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Filling hundreds of pages

‘Nuff said right there. You know that can’t be good for America.

Marcola on January 29, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Dude. We can’t take any attention away from Obamacare. That’s why we need keep the status quo in place, raise the debt ceiling, pass fake spending cuts, raise spending, and raise taxes! We need to be laser focussed on that to win in 2014!! Unless you’re talking about amnesty. Then, the GOP is totally willing to distract from Obamacare and fight tooth and nail against its own voters.

besser tot als rot on January 29, 2014 at 4:08 PM

If I had a son … “:

Raymond Boyer was known as ‘Gay Ray’ to Obama and his marijuana smoking ‘Choom Gang’ of privately-educated kids at Hawaiian high school

Ray was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in 1986, seven years after he supplied the future president and his friends with drugs

Lover Andrew Devere, a male prostitute, gave police a variety of reasons for the murder

He said surfer Boyer put him down constantly and broke wind in his face

Court documents uncovered for the first time by MailOnline

Choom is island slang for pot smoking and group went on excursions to countryside to get high and party, sometimes in Ray’s surf van

Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence

Obama last week said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol

Devere’s new wife Elizabeth told MailOnline doing drugs is fine if you are rich and ‘have the tools to deal with it’ but not if you are poor with problems

davidk on January 29, 2014 at 4:19 PM

So, they reshuffled the deck-chairs, and the did a little slight-of-hand with the payola, but the same crony’s will be getting the same checks to fund their winter vacations to the Caribbean/Hawaii/Tahiti as before.
What’s the over/under on the numbers of enrollees for SNAP come the next annual reauthorization?
Why don’t they just save the time and money and mail out SNAP/WIC cards to everyone?

Another Drew on January 29, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence

Excuse Me?
They gave him LIFE, and some moron politician paroled him?
And people wonder WTF is wrong with this country.

Another Drew on January 29, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Is there a weed subsidy?

Akzed on January 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM

There was one promising thing in the bill. It staggered the dates that the SNAP program and the AG subsidies would come up for a vote again. I wonder if that part of it survived.

Kafir on January 29, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Did they get rid of subsidies for corn ethanol?

Steve Z on January 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

The worst part of this is that we had some years ago passed the elimination of all agricultural subsidies, more than 95% of which go to corporations, not “family farmers” making under $250,000 a year. Gone, completely.

But then Democrats started making all kinds of noise and spooked the farm-state Republicans and – BOOM! – they’re baaaaaaaaaack!

We can very safely eliminate ALL corporate welfare from the federal budget tomorrow without hurting the country at all – and the longer term effects would all be positive.

Adjoran on January 29, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Adjoran on January 29, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Most family farms ARE set up as LLC’s or Corporations for a good long time now.

Steve Z on January 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Those were blender subsidies to the oil companies. The subsidies for ethanol were to dry milling ethanol plants which are almost all actually owned by local farmers who get state subsidies.

Kermit on January 29, 2014 at 5:31 PM

BTW, the new congressman from LA that the Duck Dynasty folks stumped for like crazy, he’s crowing about getting the bill passed.

Kermit on January 29, 2014 at 5:37 PM

Kermit on January 29, 2014 at 5:37 PM

y’all remember how we creamed HondaV65 for voting with the dems to hasten the fall because the GOP was shafting us?

DanMan on January 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Pelosi backed it because in that farm bill are a couple major drought relief efforts for California. One would turn the pumps that pull water out of the Sacramento River back on after having been shut down a couple of years ago by a federal judge over concerns about the delta smelt. The second provision would put a moratorium on returning a central California river to a free running river and restoring the salmon run. We just don’t have the water to constantly release and return that river to original flow rates.

crosspatch on January 29, 2014 at 5:55 PM

BTW, the new congressman from LA that the Duck Dynasty folks stumped for like crazy, he’s crowing about getting the bill passed.

Kermit on January 29, 2014 at 5:37 PM

I really miss the liberal blog theoildrum too.

Murphy9 on January 29, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Devere is now living on the mainland after serving his life sentence

Ummm, he didn’t serve the life sentence if he’s out now and he didn’t die somewhere in-between.

As to the farm bill – how much would simply stopping spending all that money reduce our deficit? Hmmmmm………

GWB on January 30, 2014 at 11:48 AM