Congressional leaders have lately been trying their darndest to get a new farm bill passed before the current policy expires in September, and earlier this month, the Senate passed their own (terrible, omnibus, status-quo maintaining, special-interest serving) $1 trillion/ten years legislation — a proposal of which the White House approved because of its only infinitesimal cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a., food stamps) that the Obama administration has grown by 70 percent since 2008 alone.
The version that House leaders were looking to pass, however, looked to make somewhat deeper cuts to food stamps (by a whopping three percent of the now almost $80 billion/year program, quelle horreur!) — a move abhorred by many Democrats, and on which the White House issued a very specific veto threat. Plenty of Republicans, meanwhile, were concerned that the bill was still way too expensive and didn’t make enough cuts. House leaders have been trying to put together a bipartisan coalition to vote the thing through, take it to conference with the Senate, and just move the heck on already — and things did not go according to plan. Via The Hill:
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. …
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, who cast a rare vote in favor of the bill, told The Hill as he walked off the House floor. …
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.
Drama, drama, drama.
Update: The farm bill’s implosion, in three tweets:
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) June 20, 2013
— Heritage Action (@Heritage_Action) June 20, 2013
— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) June 20, 2013