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House GOP leaders took a gamble Thursday in bringing a farm bill without food stamps up for a vote, and it paid off — but just barely.
The House passed the modified farm bill 216-208, inching across a 212 threshold with no Democrats voting in favor. Twelve Republicans also voted against the measure, but that was far short of the more than 60 who defected from leadership on a similar bill last month.
In fact, the revised bill looked like it could suffer yet another surprise defeat, similar to that earlier measure — which included food stamp provisions that cut more than $20 billion from the program and which fell 195-234 a month ago.
Before the vote, House Agriculture ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., told CQ Roll Call, “I was told in the gym this morning they don’t have the votes and I just heard now they’re a couple votes short.”
Conservative groups, such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, that opposed the original measure also opposed splitting the farm bill, in part because they believed the leadership’s maneuver was simply an attempt to get a bill to conference with the Senate, which has more generous food stamp provisions and fewer cuts to farm subsidies.
Raging against the decision to split the bill and put the future of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in jeopardy, Democrats delayed final passage for hours as they forced procedural votes to stall the process and to give themselves the opportunity to speak out against a measure.
Source: Roll Call