House Republican leaders redeemed themselves Thursday as their rank-and-file members fell in line and approved an agriculture bill, 216 to 208, for the first time in two years.
The bill brought to the floor was missing a key component, however, that has been an integral piece of the farm bill since the 1970s: funding for food assistance programs.
Leadership had stripped the contentious food assistance programs from the farm bill just hours before the vote with the expectation that their members would unite behind one bill.
More than 500 farm groups sent a letter to Congress in opposition to the move last week.
And fiscally conservative lawmakers continued to rail against the farm-only bill, saying it was still loaded with wasteful spending and out-of-control crop subsidies for rice, sugar and cotton farmers.
Conservative action groups also opposed the plan calling it a "rope-a-dope exercise" to get a House farm bill to conference with the Senate farm bill, which Republicans overwhelmingly reject.
"We think House leadership is splitting up the farm bill only as a means to get to conference with the Senate, where a bicameral backroom deal will reassemble the commodity and food stamp tiles, leaving us back where we started," said Andy Roth, the vice president of government affairs at Club for Growth, a conservative action group.
Heritage Action, another conservative PAC, also urged lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Democrats held up the process for hours and ultimately rejected the bill as a party because it did not include food stamps.
"I think it is unfortunate they tried to separate nutrition from agriculture," says Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. "When you think about legislation that in the past has been non-controversial, and you see what is happening here, it is just a reminder of the Republican battle within its own party. We are better than this."
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who serves as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was to blame for the partisan bill.
"Boehner is not the problem here. Cantor is the problem," Peterson said. "I don't know what the hell he thinks he is up to, but it is crazy."
Senate leaders also warned that they would not go to conference until the House of Representatives has passed a comprehensive farm bill that includes funding for food assistance programs.
"For two years in a row, the Senate has passed a bipartisan farm bill that reforms programs, cuts spending and creates jobs in American agriculture. If the House is serious about supporting rural America, they need to pass a comprehensive farm bill like the Senate bill that passed with broad bipartisan support," said Agriculture Committee Chairman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.