WASHINGTON, D.C. – What’s not to like about a “farm bill”? Everybody likes farmers. Well, when said “farm” bill is chock full of so many other Big Government spending sprees that it’d bake John Maynard Keynes blush, Americans deserve representation that will stand up and say ‘NO.’
Luckily, North Carolinian and Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows led his conservative faction to do just that.
“The House rejected a $867 billion farm bill on Friday — after spending days negotiating with key conservatives in an attempt to pass the bill without the support of Democrats.
The vote was 198 to 213. Every Democrat voted against the measure, as did 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus and voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.
The Freedom Caucus has extra leverage in the talks because most Democrats oppose this farm bill because of changes to food stamps.
The farm bill is generally known the biggest safety net for millions of farmers across the country. But it also includes the Supplemental Nutrition Program — known as SNAP or food stamps. Last year, 40 million people used the program, totaling about $70 billion in spending.
Republicans and Trump want strict work requirements for people who receive those benefits — a plan Democrats reject. That left House leaders searching for conservative votes.
But conservatives oppose the amount of spending in the bill on SNAP.”
Lowering the amount of welfare in the “farm” bill is not the only thing Meadows and the Freedom Caucus are focusing their leverage on, though. They want to actually make good on promises made long ago to the American people regarding border security.
“House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., followed through on a threat to hold up passage of the bill until the group can extract a vote on security-focused immigration legislation by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. His proposal has been opposed by Democrats and would have required passage on the strength of GOP votes alone — a level of support that GOP leaders insisted the Goodlatte bill does not have on the House floor.
And conservatives, like Meadows, have turned the legislation into a last-minute election-year opportunity. They want Republicans to deliver on their promise to cut government spending.
“You know, 76 percent of this farm bill has nothing to do with farms,” Meadows said in a recent appearance on C-SPAN. “When you look at that, 24 percent of it actually is about farms and supporting our farmers.””
Even that 24 percent though is a hard pill to swallow for conservatives that value truly limited government that eschews stays away from redistributing other peoples’ money to politically potent factions.
Such political considerations have been at the center of these farm bills since the 1970s when lawmakers added food stamps to the omnibus legislation in order to convince urban politicians to support a Big Government safety net for farmers.
But that’s exactly how government grows ever larger – buy the necessary votes by promising to spend more on others’ preferred issues. In this case it was food stamps, versus farmer welfare.
Democrats oppose the food stamps reform because attacking work to entitlement programs is anathema to their cradle-to-grave Big Government policies that depend on permanent underclasses.
despite the impasse, lawmakers will be pressured to find a solution as the current farm bill expires in September, right before the 2018 midterm elections. Rest assured that deals will be made to pass yet another near-trillion dollar measure into law. If we’re lucky, though, those deals will include work requirements on food stamps and tangible immigration/border security provisions.