On Thursday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives managed to kill the $940 billion dollar farm bill. GOP lawmakers were quick to blame Democrats for the failure, because they did not deliver 40 votes. However, Democrats pointed to huge cuts to food assistance, and a poison pill amendment from Florida Representative Steve Southerland as their reasons for voting against the bill.
Congressman Southerland's amendment would have allowed states to subject SNAP recipients to drug-tests, and additional work requirements. Republicans attempted to paint the amendment as beneficial “reform.” But, Democrats noted that the so-called “work requirement” amendment provided no funding for job training, and said it would have unfairly included disabled people and low-income parents of young children.
Fifty-eight of the Republicans who voted against the final bill also voted to accept Representative Southerland's amendment, which they knew Democrats would reject. So, House Republicans doomed the bill they had no intention of supporting, by voting for a poison pill knowing that Democrats wouldn't swallow it. If the GOP leaders had been able to get full support from their own party, the bill would have passed even without any Democratic support. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer rejected the GOP's blame-game, and said, democrats “will take no blame for the failure of the farm bill. None. Zero.”
After the votes were tallied, it was Republican dysfunction that spared our nation's most needy from being hit with these heartless cuts and work requirements. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now calling on House Speaker John Boehner to bring the Senate-passed version of the farm bill to a vote, saying, “nutrition assistance should not be held hostage to Republican incompetence.” Many Americans rely on the vital food assistance program in the farm bill, but it's anyone's guess as whether House Republicans can get it together.
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