The U.S. House defeated the Farm Bill on Thursday afternoon. In our region, two Congressmen who had worked for years to obtain passage of the bill voted on opposite sides.
The Farm Bill was defeated 234 to 195, with numerous Democrats crossing the aisle to reject the measure. The failure hinged on last-minute amendments that compromised support.
Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, a longtime supporter of the bill, was among the Democrats voting against the bill. Welch explains that the bipartisan compromise forged in the agriculture committee unraveled on the floor.
Across Lake Champlain, Welch’s neighboring Democrat Bill Owens of New York voted in favor of the Farm Bill.
Owens was surprised that the bill failed, and blames one amendment as particularly acrimonious.
Owens, known as a conservative Democrat who often tries to work across the aisle, expects difficulty compromising over the SNAP, or food stamp, funding.
Vermont’s Welch says if House Speaker John Boehner is willing to compromise, the bill could be revived.
Welch says his concerns over the lack of farm legislation is less about political fallout than practical impact on farms.
Congressman Owens, who once sat on the House Agriculture committee, has spoken with current ranking member Colin Peterson and Republican Chair Frank Lucas and has been told they will meet next week to discuss options.