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.
The vote breakdown is here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll353.xml
“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.