By David Montgomery
Rep. Kristi Noem pronounced herself shocked and disappointed by the defeat Thursday of a five-year farm bill in the U.S. House.
“A majority of lawmakers failed to do the right thing,” Noem said. “That failure to pass this farm bill (means) that status quo goes forward.”
And whose fault is the farm bill’s defeat? The measure got support from 73 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats, with some Republicans feeling the farm bill didn’t cut food stamps enough, and Democrats arguing it cut food stamps too much. Ultimately, it fell more than 30 votes short of passage.
Noem said both sides contributed to the bill’s failure, but pointed her finger primarily at the other side of the aisle.
“Both Republicans and Democrats today share the blame for this outcome,” Noem said.
But Democrats told Republicans they “would have more votes for the bill” than actually appeared, she said. The amendment process cost the bill some support, but she said a bigger factor was President Barack Obama’s late-game opposition.
“The president came out this week saying he’d veto that, but he didn’t just do that. He worked his members (against the farm bill),” Noem said.
What’s next? Noem didn’t know. She didn’t answer a question about whether Republicans might try to either make the food stamp cuts steeper to get more GOP votes, or water them down to bring more Democrats on board. One possibility would be to pass an extension of the last farm bill, which Noem said she doesn’t like. But it’s possible, Noem said, that an extension could be used as a vehicle to bring a farm bill to a conference committee with the Senate.
For now, though, GOP leaders were too stunned to start plotting their next move.
“I don’t think anybody was really in a chatty mood after the bill failed,” Noem said. “They were extremely disappointed.”