After more than two years of partisan squabbles over food and farm policy, the House passed and sent to the Senate Wednesday an almost $100 billion-a-year, compromise farm bill containing a small cut in food stamps and preserving most crop subsidies.
The measure, approved 251-166, had backing from the Republican leadership team, even though it makes smaller cuts to food stamps than they would have liked. After wavering for several years, the GOP leaders were seeking to put the long-stalled bill behind them and build on the success of a bipartisan budget passed earlier this month. Leaders in both parties also were hoping to bolster rural candidates in this year’s midterm elections.
House Speaker John Boehner did not cast a vote on the bill, a commonplace practice for a speaker, but he issued a statement Monday saying it was “worthy of the House’s support.”
The bill ultimately would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, or around 1 percent. The House had sought a 5 percent cut.
The legislation also would continue to heavily subsidize major crops for the nation’s farmers while eliminating some subsidies and shifting them toward more politically defensible insurance programs.
House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who has been working on the bill since 2011, called the compromise a “miracle” after years of setbacks.