A long-delayed national “farm bill” suffered another setback Thursday, as the House failed to pass the measure when members couldn’t resolve squabbles over crop subsidies, farmers’ insurance and cuts to the food stamp program.
The half-trillion dollar measure, which would have set the course for federal food policies for the next decade, failed by a vote of 195-234. More than 60 House Republicans defected and voted against the bill.
The bill would have cut about $4 billion a year in overall spending on farm and nutrition programs, expanded crop insurance programs and created a new kind of crop insurance that kicks in before farmers’ paid policies.
But a particularly nasty fight erupted over the bill’s proposed $2 billion annual cuts to the food stamp program, with Democrats complaining it was too severe and Republicans saying the cuts didn’t go far enough.
President Obama had threatened to veto the bill because of the food stamp cuts, saying it could leave some Americans hungry.
The administration instead supports the Senate’s version of the farm bill, which passed last week with significant bipartisan support and includes only a fifth of the amount House’s proposed food stamp cuts, or about $400 million a year.
That the bill got a vote at all was as an improvement over last year, when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, declined to bring a farm bill to the House floor in a move designed to avoid a nasty intraparty fight during an election year, as farm state Republicans pushed for crop subsidies while other GOP conservatives demanded widespread cuts.