Heritage Action, GOP House Leadership At Odds Over Farm Bill

by Katrina Trinko

The fight over the farm bill continues in the House.

While it looks more and more likely that Republican leadership is willing to split the bill into food-stamp and farm-subsidy portions, it’s not clear if even that measure could satisfy enough of the 62 Republicans who voted against the bill last month, leading to its defeat. The splitting of the bill has been pushed by Representative Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.), who brought up the idea again at a conference meeting shortly after the bill’s defeat. The House Rules Committee is slated to look at the farm-only bill tomorrow.

However, not all conservatives are satisfied. “This is nothing more than a naked attempt to get to a conference committee with the Senate,” said Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham in a statement. “The end result of such a conference would be a perpetuation of subsidies and government intervention that will continue to harm consumers and taxpayers alike.”  

“If House Republicans brought up a Heritage policy idea word for word, Heritage Action would find a way to oppose it,” retorted a senior Republican House aide.

It is unclear if there are enough votes that House Republicans could pass the farm-only bill. After the surprise defection of sixteen Democrats when the comprehensive farm bill was brought to the floor last month, Republicans are relying on a primarily party-line vote to pass the bill. There is no date scheduled at this point for a vote on the farm-only bill.

Asked to respond to the House aide’s comment, Heritage Action communications director Dan Holler stressed that the group’s objection to the new strategy was that House Republicans were effectively “adopting a process recommendation, not a policy recommendation,” saying that Heritage Action objected to several parts of the initial farm bill’s policies relating to farms (such as corporate subsidies), not merely the bill’s provisions on food stamps.