On Farm Bill, House GOP Prepared to Snatch Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

After the stunning defeat of the food stamp and farm bill last month on the House floor, multiple reports have surfaced that Republican leaders are considering separating food stamps from farm programs.  Now, thanks to unscripted, public comments by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), we know talk of separating the bill is nothing more than a procedural gimmick intended to perpetuate the status quo.

Asked about the so-called farm bill, Rep. Roe acknowledged he “thought the farm bill was about farming; it turns out its really not.”  He explained “for the first time, we’re going to separate the farm bill” from the food stamp spending.

Without being prompted, he outlined the strategy:  “We’ll take the farm bill and the food stamp bill and separate those two.  Vote both of those and send them to the Senate.  And then it’ll come back as one bill in a conference and we’ll hopefully get something…”

(jump to 2:30 for most relevant comments)

When Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) called for this approach last August in the Wall Street Journal, they did so because “The Orwellian language of Washington creates unnecessary confusion and makes responsible governing needlessly difficult.”

Needham reemphasized this point clearly last week:

The reason to end this unholy alliance is to have an open, transparent debate on real reforms.  To be clear, the House should start over and pursue real, free-market reforms; simply holding separate votes on failed policy is nothing more than a different path to the same failed policies.

It is increasingly clear lawmakers in the House have little desire to have an open, transparent process that produces real reforms.  A farm-only farm bill that perpetuates the status quo isn’t a victory, nor is a food stamp bill that perpetuates President Obama’s failed stimulus policies.

Will House Republicans squander this historic opportunity to change Washington, save taxpayers money and help those trapped by government?  If Rep. Roe’s comments are accurate, the answer will likely be yes.

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