House Republicans have voted to divide the Farm Bill into two separate pieces of legislation--one to deal with actual farm policy and one to deal with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a food stamps. But Reuters now reports that the Obama administration is threatening to veto any Farm Bill legislation that does not include the food stamp provisions:
In a statement late on Wednesday, the White House said it would veto the 608-page farm subsidy bill because it "does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms" and it omitted food stamps, formally named the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
"This bill ... fails to reauthorize nutrition programs, which benefit millions of Americans - in rural, suburban and urban areas alike," said the White House. "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a cornerstone of our nation's food assistance safety net, and should not be left behind as the rest of the Farm Bill advances."
The farm subsidy bill would cut spending by $14 billion over 10 years, chiefly by ending the $5 billion a year "direct payment" subsidy. It would expand the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance program by 10 percent, or $9 billion, over 10 years, including a provision that would shield crop revenue from drops of more than 11 percent of average.
Although dividing the issues into different pieces of legislation is helpful for debate and oversight purposes, Townhall's Kevin Glass notes that the House GOP caucus is still dropping the ball when it comes to stopping bloated government:
Unfortunately, what has now happened is that House Republican leadership has brought the incredibly flawed farm policy bill to the floor largely intact. The entire point of splitting the farm bill would be to reform both parts of it. It's politically untenable to reform the whole thing. Breaking it up makes it easier. Breaking up the farm bill is merely a means to an end, but the House Republican leadership is treating it as an end in and of itself.
In a press conference today, Speaker Boehner said that "the bill that's on the floor is the same bill that was on the floor one or two weeks ago." That in and of itself would be a good enough reason to vote against the current farm bill. But as Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute points out, it's a lie: the new farm bill never sunsets. The new farm bill permanently enshrines awful policies.