The political process proved itself unpredictable once again today when the Republican-led House unexpectedly voted down its $940 billion version of the 2013 Farm Bill.
With its $20 billion cut to food assistance and expanded $9 billion crop insurance program—which critics on the left and right said could, over time, amount to a $1 trillion handout to corporate agriculture—and President Obama's veto pen looming, the bill wasn’t without its controversies. But the Republican leadership expected it to pass.
Instead, 62 Republicans joined 172 Democrats to help kill the bill, which was defeated 195 to 234. Strong opposition from Democrats over the dramatic cuts to SNAP and other nutrition programs was expected. The revolt by fiscally conservative Republicans? Not so much.
Following the vote, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters, "It's silly. It's sad. It's juvenile. It's unprofessional. It's amateur hour," according to Talking Points Memo. She denied claims made by Republicans that she had promised 40 votes from her party; only 24 Democrats voted for the Farm Bill.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), blames Pelosi for the bill's failure.
What's next for the Farm Bill is unclear. According to The New York Times, Frank D. Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the Agriculture Committee, said before the vote, "If it doesn't pass, I don't know if it's going to come up again in this Congress.”
If that's true, we could be headed for another Dairy Cliff-like situation when the current extension—which was passed at the end of last year after the House refused to take on the Farm Bill altogether—expires in September.