(WASHINGTON) — Legislation that would have moved forward a long-term deal for nutritional and agricultural programs was defeated in the House of Representatives on Friday, after a group of Republicans voted against it.
The farm bill failed, in part due to opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, by a vote of 198-213.
Congressman Dan Newhouse issued a statement following the vote.
“I am disappointed that House Democrats and some Republicans joined together to vote against farmers,” said Rep. Newhouse. “Congress must act to strengthen the future of American farmers who are struggling with the lowest farm income in more than a decade. Before voting in favor of the Farm Bill, I traveled up and down Central Washington to speak with local farmers, ranchers, and producers, and this legislation would have gone a long way to address the concerns raised by my constituents. As a farmer myself, I understand how important support for agriculture research and strengthening market access are for our agriculture community. This legislation would have strengthened the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. From repealing the burdensome Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) to forest health reforms to reauthorizing programs that provide much-needed stability for farmers and ensure a stable food supply, Congress must fulfill our commitment to farmers and pass a Farm Bill.” -Dan Newhouse Rep. WA-4th
The White House expressed disappointment at the result in a statement from Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters, saying the president “hopes the House can resolve any remaining issues in order to achieve strong work requirements and support our Nation’s agricultural community.”
The statement also says President Trump will “continue to work with Congress to pass a Farm bill on time.”
Democrats had opposed the legislation, pointing to $23 billion in cuts from the supplemental nutritional assistance program — the food stamp program known as SNAP. House MInority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters that passing the bill would mean “endangering a lifeline for hungry children, seniors, students.”
“Republicans should scrap this bill,” she said. “They should scrap this bill and come to the table. We have done this before in a bipartisan way. We can do that again.”
One main element of the bill as presented was a change to work requirements that would have mandated adult beneficiaries spend 20 hours per week working or participating in a state-run training program.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that current policy will bring about a $10 billion reduction in SNAP benefits over the next decade due to economic growth. Republicans say any savings from the proposed program would be reinvested in SNAP and other nutritional assistance programs.
The House Freedom Caucus held out their support, hoping to extract a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., on an immigration bill. That bill does not appear to have sufficient support to pass the House.
“We had enough members that were willing to vote for the farm bill, that like the farm bill,” said Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry. “But a small group that wanted to extract some direct pledge on immigration that we could not simply fulfill under their timeframe, which is really a great disappointment that they would vote against a policy that they professed to support in order to get something immediate that was not in our legislative capacity.”
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