Embarrassing setback for House GOP leaders with Farm Bill defeat
June 20th, 2013
05:18 PM ET
1 year ago

Embarrassing setback for House GOP leaders with Farm Bill defeat

Washington (CNN) – In a surprising and embarrassing setback for House Republican leaders, legislation to overhaul the nation's farm programs failed in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives Thursday.

The bill was defeated by House conservatives who said the bill spent too much on food stamps and nutrition programs and House Democrats who opposed both the cuts to those food stamp programs and a GOP-backed amendment that added new work requirements for those applying for assistance.

The measure failed 195 – 234, with 62 Republicans joining 172 Democrats to oppose the bill, and just 24 Democrats voting with 171 Republicans to approve it.

House Speaker John Boehner, who for most of his congressional career has voted against farm bills, made a rare move last week and pledged that he would vote for this version. House speakers don't regularly vote on legislation so Boehner's announcement was an effort to get GOP members to go along with some reforms short of what they wanted in exchange for getting the farm bill through the House to the next step – a conference with the Senate on its version. Boehner made the case that doing nothing kept the same programs in place and the only way to ultimately reduce the size and scope of agriculture programs was to pass a House bill.

The rejection of the bill was a personal defeat for Boehner, and another example of how a sizeable block within the GOP conference has been willing to break with the speaker.

Ahead of the vote Thursday there was no sign that Republican leaders were worried the bill could fail. There was considerable pressure from outside conservative groups like the Club for Growth and Heritage Action to get GOP members to vote no, and several House Republican aides anticipated they would lose a bloc of votes from their own side. But GOP leaders felt comfortable that Minnesota Rep Collin Peterson, a moderate who is the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee and who helped draft the bill, would help bring along as many as 40 votes to pass it. .

"The Democrats sandbagged us," one senior House GOP leadership aide told CNN after the vote.

GOP leaders were clearly stunned as the time expired on the vote clock inside the House chamber and it became clear that the measure was about to fail. House members stood on the floor silently looking up at the vote board and the vote time was extended for several minutes as GOP leaders consulted with Peterson and others to see whether it was possible to flip enough votes to get the bill through.

When the gavel came down with the unexpected result the blame game went into high gear.

Peterson told reporters outside the House chamber that a chunk of Democratic support peeled off after passage of a GOP amendment adding work requirements for food stamp recipients. He said he warned Republican Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Rep Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, and House GOP Leader Eric Cantor that allowing a vote on that change would put the bill's passage in question.

"I told them in the last two days not to accept that amendment," Peterson said. He also said a change to the bill providing new subsidies for dairy farmers also cost some Democratic votes.

Rory Cooper, spokesman for House Majority Leader Cantor, disputed Peterson's account, saying that "there were no surprises today" and that Democrats knew those changes were expected to be added to the bill. Cooper also said Peterson assured leaders he had significantly more Democratic votes than he delivered.

Cantor released a statement saying House Democrats "shamefully chose politics over progress and meaningful reform."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi mocked the Republicans' charge that Democrats pulled the rug out at the last minute, telling reporters, "If we ever came to you when we had the majority and said we didn't pass a bill because we didn't get enough Republican votes, well that's really silly. It's sad, it's juvenile, it's unprofessional, it's amateur hour."

Peterson said he was willing to work with Republicans to salvage the bill, but said he expected the failed effort would mean Congress would end up having to pass another temporary extension of the current farm policy laws. This was the second time House Republican leaders could not get a farm bill package through the House. Last summer they postponed a similar vote because they didn't have enough support to pass it.

"If you overreach you get nothing and that is what we've been trying to tell people " Peterson said, adding, "If you take things too far than sometimes it blows up on you."

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, called on Boehner to bring up the Senate passed farm bill. "Maintaining the status quo means no reform, no deficit reduction, and further uncertainty that slows growth in our agriculture industry. This is totally unacceptable."

Conservative groups opposed to federal farm policy claimed victory and said the vote gives new momentum to do away with many of the current programs.

"The time for reform is now. We need to put farm subsidies on a path to elimination and we need to devolve food stamps to the state level where they belong. With $17 trillion in debt, the American taxpayers don't have time to wait," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a written statement.

House Republican leaders were still considering next steps, and while it's doubtful they would allow a vote on the Senate bill, it's unclear whether they will attempt to revive the House measure.


Filed under: Congress • House Republicans
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. thinking outside the box

    The fact of the matter
    "... opposed both the cuts to those food stamp programs and a GOP-backed amendment that added new work requirements for those applying for assistance." As is usually the case, the Democrats defeat a bill because of the wrong reasons.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________

    The true fact of the matter is that if ever Republican voted for this bill it would have passed. No Democrats were needed. So, in your point of view did the Republicans voting against this bill vote against it for wrong reasons just like the Democrats or did they vote against it for the right reason?

    June 21, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. MeanOldMan

    The GOP is a national joke. They have demonstrated that they have no real desire to do anything but strut around and complain and whine about handouts to the poor while they continue to support massive subsidies to the folks who need it the most. They wouldn't even eliminate themselves from receiving large agriculture handouts that they get to vote for themselves. And we are supposed to believe that the real problem is the poor taking too much. Cut the subsidies to the wealthy and corporations first and then maybe they would have some validity in the discussion. They are soooo fiscally responsible that even in their immigration bill they won't support it unless they ad things to it that makes it billions more expensive. They care about only one thing, their own greedy , narrow minded, antiquated ideology that is becoming more and more irrelevant by the day. Wake up GOP!!! The country needs two viable parties at a minimum and you folks are committing slow acting suicide.

    June 21, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. wade

    Sounds like it should of failed. So Congress did a good thing and CNN reports it as a failure?

    June 21, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. MTATL67

    The so called House leadership has been nothing but one monumental failure. Just more of the same…Republicans blaming others for their own failures. What was Kevin McCarthy doing as Whip he show know the vote count every day until the bill is brought to the floor. My word It was all in the news last week that the House Republicans would lose some votes because of the amendment.

    June 21, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    The fact of the matter
    "... opposed both the cuts to those food stamp programs and a GOP-backed amendment that added new work requirements for those applying for assistance." As is usually the case, the Democrats defeat a bill because of the wrong reasons.
    -------------------
    Many Democrats object to the $20 billion cut in SNAP and the mandated drug testing for welfare recipients, which is a major violation of one's right to privacy.

    June 21, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. zzpat

    The Speaker allowed some of his members to pass an amendment that he knew was going to kill the legislation and then he didn't require those republicans who voted for the amendment to vote FOR the legislation. They all voted against it.

    There's a republican on the House Ag committee who's made over $3 million in government subsidies over the past few years. Republicans don't have a problem with enriching themselves, instead, they pretend like they care about spending and care about the poor while the gut programs for the poor and spend money they never raise taxes to pay for.

    When was the last time the republican party supported a tax increase? Most Americans have never seen them be responsible. They depend on Democrats to raise the revenue they spend.

    June 21, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Primal 4 Life

    Nothing embarrassing about it at all. It is great that this bogus bill failed.

    June 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Steveo

    @Rudy NYC

    Larry L

    Yet Republicans support subsidies to oil companies – even those making obscene profits! They just can't bring themselves to support anything that actually helps the poor.
    ------
    What's the matter with you? Don't you get it? The oil companies are hard working and the poor are not hard working. The right is always screaming "get a job", and the oil companies are the holy grail. They're "job creators". They've earned it.
    --------–
    I know you are attempting humor but let me give you my point of view.
    1. Yes, big oil are job creators
    2. No they have not earned it, subsidies are not "earned" they are given away.
    3. While we are at it, we need to stop paying farmers and corporations to not plant! That keeps prices high
    4. We need to rethink ALL "pet" subsidies whether big oil on the right or "green" on the left (which you failed to mention)
    5. I am under the impression that if you cannot make it as a business, maybe you shouldn't be in business.
    6. Subsidiies allow the government to pick who wins and who loses!
    7. As long as there are subsidies, there are no level playing fields.

    June 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. g

    i guess shipping manufacturing jobs overseas was a bad idea

    June 21, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. quietdragon

    If you want less of something, tax it, if you want more of something, subsidize it. The more money we pour into food stamp programs, the more people we will have to support on these programs. The more we tax the working class people, the less they will work. Nature has this interesting method of motivating people tow ork, it is called 'starvation', and living organisms will find all sorts of creative ways to work to avoid it. I am sure there are a small eprcentage of people who truly cannot work to feed themselves, but I would guess it to be about 10% of what we actually fund and pay for. I would respectfully suggest that the givernment should stop stealing my money against my will and giving it to others who have not earned it but simply claim to 'need' it. In taking my money against my will I have been made a modern day financial slave.

    June 21, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Steveo

    g

    i guess shipping manufacturing jobs overseas was a bad idea
    ------------
    NAFTA! Brought to you by Bush 41, Clinton and Congress.

    June 21, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. bobo

    The Republicans are Right.... How much more of a Nanny State do we need?

    It is better to show the Hungry person HOW to Fish, instead of just giving them Fish to eat....

    June 21, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. warnat

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi mocked the Republicans' charge that Democrats pulled the rug out at the last minute, telling reporters, "If we ever came to you when we had the majority and said we didn't pass a bill because we didn't get enough Republican votes, well that's really silly. It's sad, it's juvenile, it's unprofessional, it's amateur hour."

    Hmmm....remember the background check bill??? Seems like that's exactly what you did there...
    (I can't stand that woman.)

    June 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  14. bobo

    "With $17 trillion in debt, the American taxpayers don't have time to wait." Enough Said......

    June 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Truth

    Posted By:
    Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    "How idelogically weak can the Republicans be that their blind hatred for a man is destroying their entire institution? Like of dislike him President Obama will go down in history as the David that destroyed the Goliah of an entire national institution by driving them to ideological and politcal suicide. And, like David, he will be praised by posterity."

    Praised for ......IRS scandals? Benghazi? NSA spying? Fast & Furious? ObamaCare? Yeah, PRAISED by POSTERITY. Open your eyes.

    And just so everyone understands – if you READ the article, you can see that more Republicans were against the bill than Democrats for it – bipartisan work. Why CNN reports this as a "failure", I don't know.......still drawing the dividing line I guess. I thought we were all Americans..... but Marie MD and Maria Rivera-Carvalho obviously don't think anyone with a different POV is still a decent American – they're "thugs" and worse. What happened to Free Speech and debate of one's opinions? Instead it's all name calling and bashing each other – dividing us in half. Whether Democrat or Republican, this two party system is a complete SHAM – Govt has taken on a life of it's own – we don't control it anymore.

    June 21, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Fish

    The Rabid Right strikes again if they can't have a piece of every pie then nobody can have any. Too bad they didn't strike down "W"s spending bills as he spent $trillions!!!

    June 21, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Truth

    Posted by:
    Paul

    @Shawn – cut the Republicans in half – not the number of Republicans but each one of them!

    =====================================

    Yeah, Paul – let's kill our fellow Americans that don't agree with your point of view.
    That's what America is all about, right?
    That's why I served 4yrs in the Marines as an 0331/0351 grunt, to ensure that only one party's voice or political point of view is heard and adhered to......I might have thought it was for the opposite of this, but obviously I was wrong, and you're right.
    Thanks again for having an intelligent conversation on the issues and not name calling or calling for violence against fellow Americans who have the right to their own point of view.

    June 21, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. DJ Reality

    Oh bobo
    The Republicans are Right.... How much more of a Nanny State do we need?

    It is better to show the Hungry person HOW to Fish, instead of just giving them Fish to eat....

    ----------------------------------------

    Oh bobo, that's just what we need to make the government even bigger then it is. That's good thinking. let's increase the size of government so you and other conservatives will have something else to complain about. If it wasn't for republicans most of what were going through right now would have not happened.

    June 21, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Truth wrote:

    Praised for ......IRS scandals? Benghazi? NSA spying? Fast & Furious? ObamaCare? Yeah, PRAISED by POSTERITY. Open your eyes.

    And just so everyone understands – if you READ the article, you can see that more Republicans were against the bill than Democrats for it – bipartisan work. Why CNN reports this as a "failure", I don't know.......
    ------------------–
    Scandals? Doesn't someone need to be subject to being charged with a crime in order to call it a political scandal? Rep. Issa is suppressing the facts about the IRS. No Arizona laws were broken in "False and Frivolous", and neither were any federal laws because they simply do not exist.

    Benghazi? They were ordered to evacuate. The first witness at the congressional hearings testified to that effect. He also testified that the ambassador was killed during the initial attack, which lasted an hour. When informed the ambassador was missing and presumed dead, they were ordered to evacuate. The witness thought it was a better idea to leave Tripoli undefended, and tell the people under attack to stay put for the few hours it would have taken for help to arrive. That military witness should be charged with insubordination.

    As far as how many Republicans voted for it goes, ever hear of the Hastert Rule? Google it. Boehner failed it.

    June 21, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Annie

    Some people need to read more. The Farm bill was defeated because it has massive spending for HUGE FARMS . It had nothing to do with the cuts for Food Stamp recepients which was just a part of the bill!!!!!!!!!

    June 21, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  21. Jason

    Farm bill is an aggrdandized socialist program mostly benefiting the corporations and the republican base. Cutting republicans in half might not seem like a bad idea but if you literally implement it make sure to put a tarp below it because you would not want such filthy liquid desecrating the earth.

    June 21, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. Pander Bear

    House GOP Leadership? There's leadership in the House by the GOP? Where?

    June 21, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Pete

    @RudyNYC,yes you're right Gen.Curtis Ham asked twice to Amb.Stevens if he needed more security in light of Kadafis overthrow and the 9/11 anniversary and Stevens said NO!!A CIA, government official recalled calling Stevens and telling him to come back to Tripoli because its embassy was fortified and Benghazi wasn't and had locals as trained and unarmed guards guarding Benghazi an unfortified consolate and again he said NO!!Then why should Hillary,Pres.Obama pay for Stevens incompetence,complacency that resulted in he and his collegues deaths,he was a government employee and should have listened to his superiors that's all and Issa as usual is barking up the wrong tree and spending our tax payers monies at our expense!!

    June 21, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. JRussell

    This Republican crowd has clearly proven the following; anti immigrant, anti women, anti gay, anti minority, anti intellectual, anti environmental, anti young people and now embarrassingly legislatively dis-functional. But at least they remain pro ignorant angry old white guys.

    June 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Annie

    Some people need to read more. The Farm bill was defeated because it has massive spending for HUGE FARMS . It had nothing to do with the cuts for Food Stamp recepients which was just a part of the bill!!!!!!!!!
    --------------------------
    So, Boehner and his "Hastert Rule" introduced a bill with massive spending, which his majority voted against.

    June 21, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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