Page 2 of 2 Previous
Ellison acknowledged that the farm bill contains programs important to Minnesota, but added, “we could not tolerate $20 billion in SNAP cuts.”
Peterson and fellow Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, both of whom serve on the Agriculture Committee, voted for the bill.
But Minnesota Reps. Betty McCollum and Rick Nolan, both Democrats, joined Ellison in opposing it. Like Ellison, they had voted Wednesday in favor of stripping the food stamp cuts from the bill. The Republican majority defeated that amendment 234-188.
“I was prepared to vote in favor of the bill,” Nolan said, “but in the end there were simply too many poison pills by the extreme Republican right.”
“In the end,” Nolan added, “politics replaced common sense in the farm bill.”
The left and right wings of the parties ultimately combined to sink the bill. Bachmann suggested that nutrition programs be separated from farm policy. “Food stamps and farm policy should be addressed separately in order to achieve the reforms they need and that farmers and all Americans deserve,” said her spokesman, Dan Kotman.
Many anti-government Tea Party Republicans joined Bachmann in opposing the bill.
The sticking point throughout the House floor debate was $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts. House members argued over the morality and efficacy of the cuts before voting down the amendment to kill them. The food stamp cut differs radically from the $4 billion in cuts approved in a Senate farm bill passed earlier this month. The White House also had threatened to veto a farm bill with food stamp cuts as large as the House bill prescribed.
“We’ve got to get [food stamp cuts] back to where reasonable people can live with [them],” Peterson said in a news conference after the vote. He also blamed amendments that Republicans added to the bill that made food stamp eligibility more restrictive and killed a dairy price support program.
The 103 amendments the representatives considered could have bled support, Ellison agreed. “You pick up and lose votes on every amendment,” he said.
The defeat in the House followed passage of a Senate farm bill with bipartisan support. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, who backed the Senate bill along with fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar, called the House defeat “a huge, huge disappointment.” He noted that one in five Minnesota jobs is tied to agriculture, and that “farmers don’t just want a five-year farm bill, they need one.”
Star Tribune staff correspondent Corey Mitchell contributed to this report.
Jim Spencer • 202-383-6123