The House refused to pass the latest iteration of the farm bill last week in a 234 to 195 vote, mainly due to issues surrounding budget cuts to the food stamp program, reports the New York Times.
More than 60 Republicans joined Democrats to vote down the bill. “The failure was a stinging defeat for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who continues to have trouble marshaling the Republican support he needs to pass major legislation,” reports the Times.
The bill has typically passed with little struggle, according to the Times, but bipartisan concerns over nutrition spending and farm programs has made the 2013 farm bill a contentious issue in the House. It has passed through the Senate twice, but keeps stalling in the House.
At close to $75 billion, the food stamp program became the focus of the bill, with cuts many representatives said were too steep. The House version of the bill would have cut $20 billion from the food stamp program, representing half of the proposed cuts to the bill in the next decade.
Additional cuts would eliminate $5 billion in annual subsidies to farmers and landowners, even if they don’t plant crops during the year. That money would go towards the crop insurance program, and help to subsidize peanut, cotton and rice farmers. As well, funds for fruit and vegetable growers would increase and support funding would be made available to livestock producers.
The lawmakers did pass two amendments, despite rejecting the bill: One would allow states to require food stamp applicants to take drug tests, and the other would require all food stamp recipients to qualify for federal welfare work requirements.
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