Once again, House Republicans have proven they are more capable of playing charades than they are of playing congressman and living up to their elected duties of actually governing.
In June, the House failed to reauthorize the farm bill, largely because many in the Republican caucus felt it was too generous to the poorest Americans, particularly those who receive food stamps. Rep.Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that, "we're wasting billions of dollars on a program that doesn't seem to be lifting people out of poverty." I guess Kelly and others missed that passage in the Bible that says, "for I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink."
So, under the guise of "passing the right bill", the House leadership stripped the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program from the bill and passed a "farm-only" farm bill. The nutritional programs and farm subsidies have passed jointly as part of the same bill since 1977.
In the end, this bill completely abandons the conservatives' limited government philosophy and increases unlimited crop insurance subsidies by more than $9 billion. It also permanently creates special insurance subsidies for cotton, sugar and peanut farmers. Lastly, it is not lost on anyone that 11 Republican House members and/or their spouses benefited from federal farm subsidies last year while not a single member received food stamps. These members have proven once again that their rhetoric is hollow.
We have seen this play before from the House GOP with their 37 votes to repeal Obamacare. They only vote for those bills that appeal to their own special interests while ignoring their larger duty – crafting a viable piece of legislation that will actually obtain the president's signature.
But, this time, the House Republicans may have outsmarted themselves. Ironically, by refusing to work with the other side of the aisle and pass a bill that actually stood a chance of getting signed into law, funding for the food stamp program will likely continue at its current level and none of the reforms they have championed in the past will occur. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, admonished the GOP, saying, "if you want reform, if you want to be able to cut down on waste, fraud and abuse, that doesn't happen unless we pass food-stamp legislation as part of the farm bill ... it's going to take bipartisan support in the House."
Sadly, House Republicans continue to demonstrate that they are more concerned about passing bills that fit neatly into a 30-second campaign commercial than they are about finding solutions to America's problems.