House Republicans fell short of the needed simple majority vote needed to pass their go-it-alone 2018 farm bill, after conservatives revolted when GOP leaders refused to give them an early vote on tough immigration reforms.
The conservative Freedom Caucus demanded a vote on immigration reform before a farm bill vote. With no Democrats supporting the bill, GOP leaders needed the conservatives’ votes but promised only a June vote on immigration.
The loss though not unprecedented was still a stunning blow for a farm bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan who spearheaded food stamp reforms in the bill, immediately sought a new vote, which was put off, giving the lame duck Speaker more time to lobby conservatives.
But, it was still a disappointing day for House Ag Chair Mike Conaway, who chastised Democrats for moving to recommit the bill for numerous improvements, when they offered no amendments originally, in committee.
The House debate was dominated days of partisan feuding over GOP SNAP work and training requirements that Democrats charged would scuttle benefits for some two-million adults and children, but Republicans argued would encourage work and personal dignity.
The House debated dozens of amendments, though several key riders opposed by farm groups to cap ARC and PLC spending and curtail payments to farm managers, were not ruled in order.
Another to scuttle commodity, conservation and crop insurance subsidies and one to reform the sugar program were easily defeated, while an explicit end to the Obama WOTUS rule and a “one and done” sign up for ARC and PLC to replace time-consuming annual sign-ups were approved.
The Senate Ag panel is still expected to debate a more bipartisan farm bill in coming weeks, regardless of the final outcome in the House.