House Farm Bill Vote Surprises and Disappoints

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By Brian German

Republican lawmakers were shocked that the farm bill vote in the House of Representatives did not get the anticipated support from legislators.  Disagreements between GOP leadership and more conservative elements of the party resulted in a final vote of 198 in favor and 213 opposed, with nearly 30 Republicans voting against the bill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued a statement in response to the vote, saying “We experienced a setback today after a streak of victories all week. We may be down, but we are not out. We will deliver a strong, new farm bill on time as the President of the United States has called on us to do. Our nation’s farmers and ranchers and rural America deserve nothing less.”

Members of the House Freedom Caucus had indicated they would not be supporting the farm bill until the House voted on immigration legislation.  Prior to the vote, members of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s team had met with leaders of the Freedom Caucus in hopes of reaching a compromise.  It had already been clear long before the farm bill vote where House Democrats stood, as many in the party had voiced their criticism of stricter work requirements in the food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also noted the necessity of getting a farm bill passed in a statement that read: “A farm bill is necessary to provide our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers with the stability and predictability they need. Our farmers feed the people of this nation and the world, and they deserve the certainty of a farm bill.”

There is no indication whether House Republicans will try to pass the same bill again or opt for a more bipartisan version that would most likely be approved by the Senate.

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