The 2013 farm bill has been defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives
In a surprising development, the U.S. House of Representives voted down the 2013 farm bill this afternoon by a 195-234 vote, with opposition coming from both sides of the aisle. Next steps for the $940 billion legislation, which authorizes farm insurance, conservation, and food stamp programs for five years, were not immediately clear. The Senate had previously passed a version of the farm bill.
On the Republican Party side, 171 representatives supported the bill and 62 opposed it, data shared by the House clerk's office shows. On the Democratic Party side, 24 representatives supported the legislation while 172 opposed it.
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The bill, which was supported by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who rarely votes, came under fire from conservatives who wanted deeper cuts in federal insurance programs. They were joined in opposition by liberals who objected to $2 billion in cuts in the food stamp program. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the legislation.
The House bill would have trimmed $40 billion from farm and nutrition programs over the next 10 years. A little more than half would have some from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as the food stamps program.
Farm Bureau's Mary Kay Thatcher explains why the bill was defeated:
Click here to see how your representative voted on the bill.
The House's failure to pass a bill drew a stinging rebuke from Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture. She noted that the Senate has twice passed a Farm Bill. "The speaker needs to work in a bipartisan way to present a bill that Democrats and Republicans can support," she said, adding that a good place to start would be to bring the Senate-passed bill to a vote.
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Both the Senate-passed version and the House bill would cut $5 billion annually in direct payments to farmers. The bills created new support programs for peanut, cotton, and rice farmers.
Meanwhile, CEO Michael Needham of the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action for America applauded the vote. Conservative lobbies had argued that the bill didn't go far enough to remove "market-distorting" farm subsidies.
"Today is a victory for the taxpayer and the free market," Needham says. "Now is the time for the House to recognize what so many others have: The unholy alliance that has long dominated America’s agriculture and nutrition policy must end."
Reaction on social media were mixed. On AgDay's Facebook page, John Dunning Jr. shared his concerns.
"We have NO real people representing us in Washington," Dunning says. "We all need to band together and vote these clowns out of office. That's a slap in the face to us. They got us into this debt mess and now they take it out on the American farmer. ... Around 80% of the farm bill is to help people on welfare/food stamps, and they abuse it. It's time all our politicians get a grip on reality."