Boehner splits food stamps from Farm Bill
Given how far to House and Senate were apart on the issue of cuts in the SNAP program, Boehner decided to divide the Farm Bill by splitting off the food aid from the rest of the bill.
The House will vote Thursday on a new farm bill in a major test for Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and the rest of the House GOP leadership team.
The new bill includes updated subsidies for farmers but strips a reauthorization of the food stamp program that was included in the last farm bill.
Fights over food stamp funding was a major issue when that bill was rejected last month in an embarassment for GOP leaders.
GOP leaders blamed the rare defeat on the floor of legislation backed by the House majority on Democrats who they said had promised more votes than they delivered. But Republicans lost many of their own in the vote, too, and GOP leaders were widely criticized for the defeat.
After furiously whipping the bill on Wednesday, House GOP leaders now believe they can pass the measure over the opposition of farm groups and some conservative organizations.
The majority leader's office announced the vote just before midnight after the Rules Committee approved a rule for the farm bill that does not allow amendments.
The House will vote on the rule for the debate at 10 a.m. Thursday before a dramatic final vote as early as 12 p.m.
The effort to split the bill emerged after the earlier farm bill failed oin a 195-234 vote. Liberals balked at the $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts included in the bill, while conservatives voted "no" because they wanted more food stamp cuts.
The split is not going to fly. Democrats are opposed, Obama has threatened a veto, Farm groups are up in arms because they have relied for decades on a coalition of urban Democrats who support food stamps and rural Republicans who supported increased farm subsidies. Splitting food stamps from the bill destroys that coalition, making it harder for farmers to soak the taxpayer.
Even if the new version passes, the Senate won't even go to conference. There are several killer provisions above the $20 billion in food stamp cuts, including an amendment that would force food stamp recipients to find work or enroll in a job training program.
So in the end, we're pretty much back to square one with the farm bill.