A surprise defeat for a new Farm Bill

“Surprise” and “dysfunctional” were among the terms used to describe Thursday’s defeat of a Farm Bill by the U.S. House.

The new legislation was defeated on a 234 to 195 vote, the result of Republican conservatives arguing it would cost too much, while defecting Democrats crying that it would not spend enough on priorities.

A Politico article called the outcome a surprise because the Farm Bill, for many years, has been a beacon of bipartisanship in an increasingly rough-and-tumble House, but Thursday’s defeat showed just how dysfunctional and chamber and its leadership have become.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post called it a rebuke to House GOP leaders, who have struggled to get their caucus to pass major legislation.

The New York Times said the nearly $75-billion food stamp program was the focus of most of the Farm Bill debate. Democrats said the cuts to the program were too steep, but some Republicans said the cuts and other changes to the program were about fraud, not cutting food assistance for the needy.

It’s hard to say what the future of the bill is. Congress could elect to make an extension of old legislation, as it did last year, or try to win more votes by tinkering with the details.

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