The House version of the bill, which included significant cuts to food stamps, was rejected by representatives 234-195. Sixty-two Republicans voted against the measure. Twenty-four Democrats voted for it.
Most Democrats opposed the bill over cuts in the food stamp program, which would have denied food stamps to as many as 2 million needy Americans, including a small but not insignificant number of active duty and disabled military. (According to the Defense Commissary Agency, around $53 million in food stamps were cashed in by people eligible to shop at base commissaries so far and that figure could reach $100 million by the end of the year.)
Some Republicans also opposed the bill because they did not feel the cuts went deeply enough. They noted that the cost of the food stamp program, formally the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has doubled over the last five years. Today, 1-in-7 Americans receive this aid. Alabama Republicans, however, voted for it.
Democratic opposition hardened when Republicans added an amendment that would have allowed states to force applicants to submit to drug testing in order to qualify for food stamps — a popular, punitive but not particularly productive requirement.
About the only thing the two sides seem to agree on is that it was a major defeat for the Republican leadership in the U.S. House and for the farm lobby.
The Senate has already passed its version of the Farm Bill that included much smaller cuts in SNAP. The hope was that the House would pass its version and a conference committee would reconcile the two.
Now that won’t happen.
Instead farmers will continue to operate under an earlier bill that was extended through September.
Will cooler heads prevail and a compromise be reached?
Or will each side blame the other and the can will be kicked down the road again?
Smart money is betting on the can.