House fails to pass farm bill

Published on: Jun 20, 2013

Passage of a new farm bill looked likely in what has become a multi-year climb on the House. However, members voted down the comprehensive five-year bill in a vote 195-234 Thursday afternoon leaving the bill unable to be conferenced with the Senate's passed version.

Heading into Thursday votes, major reforms were debated including dairy, sugar, payment limitations and additional restrictions for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It may have been all or none of them that became the death of the bill. But the fact remains that the bill presented before the members wasn't palatable. A total of 62 Republicans voted against the bill along with 172 Democrats. Only 24 Democrats voted in favor of it. (Recorded vote here.)

Immediately before the final vote members dismissed a call for Democrats to recommit the bill by a vote of 188-232.

The last amendment vote was on an amendment from Rep. Steve Southerland (R., Fla.) that allows states to apply federal work requirements to the food stamp program. Democrats saw it as another nail in the coffin in its biggest quip with the farm bill which was the $20.5 billion in nutrition spending cuts.

In a speech on the budget floor following the vote, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said the bipartisan bill brought to the floor would have had the votes to win passage. However, it was when amendments approved by Republicans made it partisan that became the end demise of the bill.

House Speaker John Boehner has spoken out repeatedly against House Agriculture Committee ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) Dairy Security Act. He got a win with the Goodlatte-Scott amendment to remove the stabilization component of the new program to provide margin insurance received approval by a sound vote of 291-135.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said however, that its inclusion was one of the poison pills of the final package. The speaker's "dedication to the dairy processors instead of dairy farmers" was one of the two "seeds of destruction" for passage, Pelosi added.

A statement from Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation, called the amendment approval a "hollow victory for its proponents."

“We always knew we faced a difficult challenge in the more urban and suburban-oriented House, especially with House Speaker John Boehner personally committed to defeating the Dairy Security Act," Kozak said. "But we’re hopeful that the House and Senate will eventually find a way to write a compromise farm bill. When they do, we believe the agriculture conferees who develop that final bill will understand the importance of the more balanced approach to dairy policy contained in the Senate-passed farm bill."

Meanwhile, an attempt to reform some of the aspects of the sugar program was voted down 206-221.