House Republican leaders pick up the pieces this week after another embarrassing defeat on a farm bill, which was weighed down yet again by controversial food stamp reforms before sinking because of an intra-party feud over immigration policy.
For the second time in five years, House Republicans failed to pass a farm bill, this time because of conservative demands for action on immigration and fierce Democratic opposition to the legislation's food stamp reforms.
By a surprisingly large bipartisan margin, the House easily defeated the latest attempt by food and candy manufacturers to reduce sugar prices, rejecting an amendment that would have ended domestic marketing controls for the commodity.
Lawmakers from both ends of the ideological spectrum want to use the farm bill to impose significant new restrictions on the research and promotion programs for beef, milk and dozens of other commodities.
Republican leaders desperate to push through a partisan farm bill through the House that overhauls the food stamp program are heading off attempts to cut crop insurance or tighten commodity payment limits.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is struggling to cobble together the votes he needs from GOP colleagues to pass his farm bill while fending off amendments that would roll back the sugar program or cut crop insurance.
The White House has endorsed the House farm bill ahead of a contentious floor debate, saying the legislation would provide certainty to farmers while imposing “common-sense work requirements” on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
House GOP leaders hope to pass a farm bill this week over likely unified Democratic opposition, but Republicans head into the debate divided over critical amendments on sugar policy, crop insurance and other issues.
With a farm bill floor debate looming next week, House members have filed more than half a dozen amendments attacking various aspects of the crop insurance program and others seeking to tighten rules for commodity subsidies and to roll back the sugar program.