The debate on HR 3102, the U.S. House of Representatives’ standalone nutrition bill, could not have been more contentious; the closed rule allowed no amendments.
Republicans went in knowing no Democrats would vote in favor, and unsurprisingly, the daylong debate was skewed to the left and right, with both sides attacking the weaknesses of the other.
Congressman Luke Messer , Republican from Indiana:
We’re going to defund Obama care, and we’re going to keep the government open at sensible spending levels.
Congressman George Miller, Democrat from California:
This is not economic stimulus – this is a national outrage.
It’s outrageous that 26 anonymous individuals received over $1 million each in farm subsidies, but $1.40 per meal for a hungry child is considered ‘government waste.’
Finally, as the long hour of debate was ending, House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas summed up his feelings:
It should not be this hard to pass a bill that the consumers in the country, and around the world, have enough to eat. It shouldn’t be this hard.
But everything seems to be hard these days. So let’s do the hard things, let’s get our work done, let’s go to conference. Let’s put a final bill together. Let’s fulfill our responsibilities.
The bill passed with 217 Republican votes. Democrat Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who managed the debate on her side, came over and shook hands with Lucas, suggesting a belief on her part that his support of the bill was only to get to conference and pass a farm bill.
Ahead of the vote Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson made his strong opposition to H.R. 3102 known, calling the bill another example of the Republican Majority’s misplaced priorities, adding that no reason existed to pass the bill.
On the other side of the Hill – Senate Agricultural Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow said she’d never seen this kind of partisanship injected into a farm bill before. She called the House bill a shameful attempt to kick millions of families in need off of food assistance and a monumental waste of time.
Both Stabenow and Peterson questioned the bill’s chances in the Senate and across the President’s desk. However Stabenow did concede that the bill’s passage heralded some slight progress on a final five-year farm bill.