In a rare move Thursday, 62 House Republicans joined with the majority of Democrats to vote down a major piece of farm legislation. The farm bill was expected to pass through the Republican-controlled House, much to Democrats' chagrin. But the bill failed, 195-234, thanks in part to conservative Republicans who didn’t think the bill was conservative enough.
The most notable feature of the bill was a $21 billion dollar cut over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps. The cuts would have ultimately affected 22 million children living in poverty.
Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley said Thursday on msnbc that the failure of the bill was a blow to Republican leadership. “In some respects Republicans are doing us a great service using the farm bill as a platform to demonstrate to the American people how dysfunctional their caucus and their conference is,” Crowley said. “I think it’s a massive failure not only for the Speaker, but for the entire Republican caucus leadership.”
He added, “I think that there’s elements of racism involved in some of those comments and I think a disdain for poor people and for working people in this country, that’s what I think was coming across.”
Crowley also took issue with Donny Ferguson, the communications director and agriculture policy adviser for Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, who took the 'SNAP Challenge,' which asked individuals to feed themselves on $31.50 a week. Stockman's office claimed Ferguson "beat" the challenge and even had money left over.
"Based on my personal experience with SNAP benefit limits we have room to cut about 12 percent more," Ferguson said of the challenge.
Crowley's response: “If you go through the entire list of what was purchased, and to say it was lacking in nutrition was an understatement, it’s a mockery…It’s making a mockery of those children who need food stamps to ensure they get the nutrition that they need in order to succeed in school and in life. He wanted to make a mockery of the people who use food stamps, and I think that’s wrong.”