The $867 billion farm bill was defeated in the House on Friday, 198–213, after every House Democrat and 30 conservative Republicans voted against its passage.
Democrats opposed the bill’s tightening of work requirements for food-stamp recipients, something the Trump administration has pushed. The 30 Freedom Caucus conservatives who voted “nay,” meanwhile, had asked House leadership for more spending cuts and insisted that the House vote on an immigration bill proposed by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) first.
“You know, 76 percent of this farm bill has nothing to do with farms,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) said on CSPAN. “When you look at that, 24 percent of it actually is about farms and supporting our farmers.”
The hard line drawn by the Freedom Caucus, a frequent thorn in the side of House leadership, highlights an escalating immigration fight within the GOP. Democrats and some moderate Republicans are trying to force a series of votes on the issue this year, while the Freedom Caucus wants to vote on Goodlatte’s conservative bill, which includes border-wall funding and a crackdown on sanctuary-city policies.
House speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy do not like either proposal, saying the Democrat-led initiative would hand control to the minority while Goodlatte’s bill does not have the support to pass.
Congress is still hoping to pass a farm bill before the end of September, when the current one expires.