Ag Policy Blog

The House is an Unruly Bunch

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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One of the more critical takeaways from Thursday's collapse of the farm bill is that there is just no way the House is going to pass something as complex and as controversial as an immigration bill.

I've said for awhile now that I didn't think this Congress could pass a big authorization bill. The House had rejected a five-year highway bill last year. The education reauthorization bill appears to be on the long-term backburner. And the farm bill, with a nearly $1 trillion 10-year budget score is just ripe for being picked apart on the floor.

At the sme time, I liked the comment from Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland that House Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The vote on the floor raises a lot of questions about just what the House is capable of doing -- together. Moreover, while Democrats can be blamed because only 24 of them were willing to support the final product, the Republican majority in this situation has no one to blame but itself.

The bill's failure in the 195-234 vote meant effectively that 20 votes would have needed to be turned for passage.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., could look at a score card to find some of those closest to him in various ways were those who undercut him.

Consider some of these numbers. Twelve Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee rejected the final bill, largely because those members are strong advocates for nutrition programs. The more puzzling vote is the one Republican on the House Ag Committee who voted against it: Committee Vice Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. Goodlatte voted against the final product after his dairy amendment won strong, bi-partisan support to overhaul the dairy safety net in the bill.

Goodlatte, the Judiciary Committee chairman, was one of six of Lucas' fellow committee chairmen -- House leaders -- to vote against the bill. Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin voted against it, as did Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of California, Veteran Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Rep. Bill Schuster of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, also voted against it.

Scalise being from Louisiana and Hensarling being from Texas also is notable. Southern crops make out well in the House version of the farm bill. Cotton not only gets its new insurance program, but also gets two more years of direct payments. Rice and peanut growers get higher target prices then they get in the Senate. The target price program overall was meant to appease those growers.

A high number of Republicans who voted against the bill came from major agricultural districts and southern states such as Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. Many of them argued they voted against the bill because it didn't go far enough to cut nutrition spending, or they simply would like to see SNAP removed farm bill altogether.

The House remains an unruly bunch, but they are kind of entertaining, aren't they?

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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Jay Mcginnis
6/24/2013 | 11:45 AM CDT
If you look at the states where the congressmen are from you must wonder that if the Confederacy had won the war 150 years ago and created their own country would the new "Mexican border" be the Mason Dixon line? They seem to have a difficult time governing!
Bonnie Dukowitz
6/21/2013 | 7:55 AM CDT
If the elected refuse to even decrease the proposed increase, how will the entire budget balance ever become a reality. If our property tax valuation would double, could we then borrow our way out of debt? Looks like extra large, in business and shopping carts will be the norm.