Farm Bill Insta-Passes House

You might well have missed it if you blinked. In a gambit that clearly looked designed to benefit from the distractions of the SOTU and all the after-spin, the House passed the latest, greatest farm bill “compromise” before the ink was dry. The vote was 251-166, with Republicans supporting it 162-63, and Democrats opposing it 103-89. The bill disappointed many liberals doubly: it did wind up cutting food stamp funding at a time when every penny is needed, and it didn’t do much to reform the nation’s system agricultural subsidies.

The bill will probably get through the Senate next week with solid Democratic support; most of the food stamp cuts, it appears, will mainly be taken from the hide of beneficiaries that the states qualified via the “heat and eat” maneuver (giving them token heating assistance that automatically made them SNAP-eligible). A WaPo editorial recently called “heat and eat” a “political gift to SNAP’s perennial opponents,” and I tend to agree. But Lord knows we are living at a time when in case of doubt, you might want to just feed people.

Meanwhile, the House handling of the latest and greatest farm bill casts yet another ray of retroactive light on the endless bitching of Republicans about the amount of time they had to peruse an Affordable Care Act they’d already decided to oppose long before the first hearing or mark-up.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.