The House Republican leadership is looking at splitting the farm bill into two parts, dividing the food stamps funding from the farm subsidies, after it failed to pass in the House last week.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor is driving the idea as a possible strategy to reach a farm deal in conference with the Senate this summer, Politico reports
. The farm bill failed in the House by a 195 to 234 vote
Cantor, a Virginia Republican, had expected that 40 Democrats would back the bill, but only 24 ended up voting for the measure. House GOP leaders are looking now at a path that does not force them to rely on Democrats at all.
"Cantor believes the best path now is to move forward with a bill that has 218 Republican votes since Democrats proved they cannot be trusted to work in good faith, and that path may be splitting up the bill," a senior GOP aide told The Hill
Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is willing to try this approach and is monitoring Cantor's efforts to put it together.
Cantor also has the support of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee.
"We should separate food stamps from what we call the Commodity Title," Ryan said while appearing on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC on Monday. "Eighty-three percent of the farm bill is food stamps. So when you think farm bill, you think farmers. No. Eighty-three percent of that spending is the food stamp program. We should treat the food stamp program on its own, as its separate program, and reform it."
Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana previously attempted to split the bill by offering an amendment to the House Rules Committee. House conservatives were frustrated when Stutzman's proposal was ruled out of order.
The downside to splitting up the bill would be that it would complicate the House and Senate conference. Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, told The Hill Wednesday that he doesn't think the GOP can get enough votes without the Democrats since there will always be some fiscal conservatives that will oppose the farm bill as a matter of principle.
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