Topeka Capital - Journal:
U.S. House rejects farm, food bill despite support of three Kansas lawmakers
Three of four Kansas members of the U.S. House voted on Friday for a new federal farm bill that went down to defeat and left President Donald Trump without traction on controversial work and job-training mandates for people who receive food stamps.
The House’s Republican-written agriculture and nutrition bill was championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and farm lobbying interests, but was defeated 198-213. Farm bills typically receive bipartisan support from urban and rural members, but 30 Republicans and all Democrats voted “no.”
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a Republican from Kansas and member of the House Agriculture Committee, said the result showed “clearly we have more work to do.”
Some conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus wanted to force action on immigration policy in exchange for backing the bill, but didn’t get the promise they sought.
Democrats were critical because a work requirement of 20 hours per week or mandated enrollment in job training programs could force 2 million people off food stamps. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the Senate was unlikely to include a work mandate in its version of the farm bill.
“I have faith that once members have to go home and face their producers they will rethink today’s outcome and will focus on the needs of rural America,” said Marshall, who represents the large 1st District in Kansas. “This effort is far from over. I am anxious to return to Congress next week to get back to work on providing our producers the certainty they deserve.”
U.S. farm bills typically run for five years and include funding for farm subsidies, conservation programs, food stamps and rural development. In Kansas, farmers were optimistic the bill could provide relief from low crop prices and a volatile international trade environment.
Trump and other House Republicans were interested in imposing new rules at able-bodied adults in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP or food stamps.
The House package also would cut conservation programs by $800 million over a decade, while creating opportunities for some farm producers to exceed subsidy limits, including a provision making additional family members eligible for up to $125,000 in payments each year.
Rejection of the bill demonstrates U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic Party colleagues are intent on holding Kansas farmers and ranchers hostage over Trump’s proposal to require able-bodied Americans to work in exchange for food stamps, said U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, who represents a congressional district in Kansas dominated by Wichita.
Estes said the House bill would protect crop insurance programs and repeal burdensome regulations developed under the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.
“I will continue to fight for Kansas farmers and ranchers and urge Nancy Pelosi and congressional democrats to stop playing political games with the farm bill,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who serves the 2nd District that includes Topeka, voted for the bill. She is not seeking re-election in 2018 to Congress. U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Johnson County Republican, is seeking re-election, but didn’t vote on the bill.
Steve Watkins, who is campaigning for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District, said failure of the Republican majority to adopt the bill showed the need for new leadership in Washington, D.C.
“Career politicians in Congress failed to deliver on a Republican-led farm bill that addressed critical issues impacting Kansas farmers -- issues like work requirements for SNAP (food stamp) recipients and long overdue welfare reform,” Watkins said. “Halting farm assistance programs will have detrimental effects on Kansas farms and rural communities. That is why I am running for Congress.”
Via the Topeka Capital-Journal