The shock over the defeat of the farm bill in the U.S. House of Representatives had barely sunk in Thursday when the blame game began.
It started on the floor of the House when Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was giving an update on next week’s schedule and Minority Whip Steney Hoyer (D-VA) asked whether the student loan program would be addressed. “If the gentleman witnesses what just happened on the floor,” said Cantor, “There seems to be a decision on the part of his leadership, we’re not going to go along with bipartisan work and success and maybe we’re just going to make this a partisan issue.”
That set off Hoyer, understandably so. “I wasn’t going to bring up what happened today, but what happened today is that you turned a bipartisan bill, necessary for our farmers, necessary for our consumers, necessary for the people of America, that many of us would have supported, and you turned it into a bipartisan bill,” Hoyer said, setting off an argument between the two accusing each side of killing the bill.
Listen to part of that here: Congressmen Hoyer and Cantor on Farm Bill defeat
The deal breaker for many Democrats was a last minute amendment by Steve Southerland of Florida which gave states the option to require food stamp beneficiaries to either work or look for work. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) told reporters after the vote that between that and the amendment by Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) changing the dairy program he lost at least 15 Democrat votes he expected to have for the bill. “Those two votes cost us a lot of votes and I would guess it didn’t get them a damn thing on their side,” he said. Collin Peterson comments (courtesy of Agri-Pulse)
In fact, at least 58 Republicans who voted in favor of the deal killing Southerland amendment voted against the final bill, which was pointed out by several Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who was blamed specifically in a statement by Cantor for failure to pass the bill. Watch her reaction in the YouTube video below.