Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., didn’t vote for the farm bill last Thursday, but he put the bill’s defeat squarely in the hands of the Democrats.
“Personally…I didn’t support the farm bill,” he told Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Monday.
“Do you agree something dysfunctional happened?” Brzezinski asked, referring to the bill’s 234 to 195 defeat.
“The Democrats promised 40 votes, and they didn’t deliver the votes they had promised,” Ryan responded. “Our leaders brought the bill to the floor based upon the commitment that Democrats from the agricultural districts made, and then during consideration of this bill on the floor they reneged on the commitment of the 40 votes they promised and the bill went down.”
Conservative House members (Ryan included) have cited a need for reducing the size of government as reason for not supporting the bill.
“I think it was a missed opportunity to reform a lot of government programs that are bloated,” Ryan stated.
What does Ryan exactly mean then about the 40 votes promised by the Democrats? The bill included $20.5 billion in cuts over the next 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps–significantly more than the Senate farm bill and less than friendly to Democrats. A last minute amendment from Rep. Steve Southerland alienated additional Democrats when it tried to tie food stamp eligibility to federal welfare work requirements.
Ryan added the importance of keeping “your word” on a vote when “trying to bring bipartisan legislation to the floor,” but he didn’t mention Southerland’s last-minute amendment.
“Given SNAP’s exceptional efficiency, it is simply not possible to achieve significant savings without directly impacting participants,” the nonprofit group Feeding America writes on its website regarding cuts to the farm bill.