A farm bill‘s failure to pass in the US House of Representatives Thursday has stunned Republicans. The legislation was expected to pass without difficulty but additions to the bill, which included food stamp cuts, proved to split the Republican dominated House.
The farm bill was intended as an important overhaul that would eliminate billions of dollars in blanket subsidies paid to farmers and landowners, some of whom do not ranch or plant crops.
Instead, the funds would go to back the planting of various crops including vegetables and cotton. It would also create an insurance program for the livestock owners who have been hit especially hard by drought conditions over the last several years.
It was originally a largely bipartisan bill that would have gotten an overwhelming number of House votes from both sides of the aisles.
However, 62 Republicans joined the majority of Democrats in rejecting the bill in an unexpectedly embarrassing defeat for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Why did the bill fail? “You took a bipartisan bill and turned it into a partisan bill,” explained Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democrat from Maryland, referring to the controversial Republican-authored amendments to the farm bill.
In addition to the reallocation of farm subsidies, proposed cuts in food stamp allocation and new work requirements turned House Democrats away, reports the New York Times.
Especially conservative House Republicans, however, found that the proposed welfare cuts didn’t go far enough. Representative Stutzman of Indiana went so far as to say that the “bill is too big and would have passed welfare policy on the backs of farmers.”
House Speaker Boehner, who typically votes against farm bills, voted for this one and had expected other Republicans to fall in line.
The farm bill‘s defeat illustrates the increasingly reduced bipartisanship and cooperation in the House and puts pressure on Boehner to reclaim control of his party.
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