On Thursday afternoon, House GOP Leadership engineered final passage of a stripped-down Farm Bill. Getting there wasn’t pretty. First, the Leadership removed all provisions related to the food stamp program, which comprises the overwhelming majority of spending in the bill. Then, last night, they waived their own rule that requires legislation to be available for 3 days before a final vote. The measure passed 216-208, with all the Democrats and just 12 Republicans voting against.
Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Paul Cook (Calif.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), John Duncan (Tenn.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Matt Salmon (Ariz.), and Mark Sanford (S.C.).
Last month, GOP Leadership suffered an embarrassing defeat when 62 Republicans defected and voting against the Farm Bill, causing an unexpected defeat. On Thursday, Leadership flexed its muscle and secured passage, in spite of a non-sensical veto threat from the White House.
Passage of the bill allows negotiations to begin with the Senate over a final bill. Even though the House bill dropped the provisions related to food stamps, that program can be addressed in a conference committee with the Senate. This should provide a cautionary tale for opponents of amnesty. Even if the House only passes legislation to increase border security, provisions to legalize current illegal immigrants could come out of a conference committee, as food stamp provisions certainly will.
Democrats, the White House, conservative organizations and most farm groups opposed the vote Thursday. The only group supporting the vote was the House GOP Leadership. That was enough for passage.