Yesterday, the House of Representatives managed to pass a revised and reduced version of the farm bill, in a close 216 to 208 vote. The original version collapsed in an embarrassing 195 to 234 defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in June.
The recent vote came as a victory for House Republicans, but the changes made to the legislation — notably including the choice to split farm policy from food stamps — were a great source of controversy. The last time a farm bill didn’t include food stamp programs was 1973.
The little Democratic support that arrived for the last vote — 24 voted in favor — completely disappeared. This time around, all 196 Democrats voted in opposition.
“This process hasn’t been easy and we still have a long way to go to get a farm bill signed into law,” commented Kristi Noem (R-SD). “Splitting the farm bill is not ideal and certainly wasn’t the path I would have chosen, but at the end of the day, we need to get a farm bill into conference with the senate.”
Food stamp programs represented 80 percent of the original version’s budget, not to mention a principle part of the legislation passed by the Senate.
The night before the bill was passed in the House, the White House issued a veto threat, with respect to the bill’s exclusion of food stamps: “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a cornerstone of our nation’s food assistance safety net, and should not be left behind as the farm bill advances.”