Farm Bill Falls: Republican Infighting Sinks Paul Ryan’s Dream Of Ending SNAP

GOP in disarray

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., points to his copy of the Constitution on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 6, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On Friday, the historically bipartisan farm bill was voted down in the House, 198-213. What ultimately led to the bill’s downfall was not only the unanimous opposition by the Democrats, but the GOP leadership’s inability to muster up the support it needed from the House Freedom Caucus. The notoriously difficult group of Conservatives were intent on holding the bill hostage until a highly controversial immigration bill was brought to the floor.

The standoff in the Republican Party boiled down to whether or not the GOP’s legislative agenda should prioritize Paul Ryan’s dream of destroying the social safety net over the pursuit of an aggressive immigration policy. The farm bill would have imposed strict work requirements for those currently benefiting under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly referred to as food stamps – affecting millions. Nancy Pelosi has said, “this bad bill steals food off the tables of children, seniors, students – 1.5 million of our veterans rely on the nutrition provision of this bill”

The immigration bill that the Freedom Caucus wanted to bring to the floor was the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) co-sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tx). The Goodlatte-McCaul bill would provide additional funding for the wall, crack down hard on sanctuary cities, and calls for an “additional 5,000 Border Patrol Agents and 5,000 Customs & Border Protection Officers,” and ends so-called “chain-migration.”

Even though the farm bill was killed in the House today, the Republican agenda is clear. Variations of both of these bills will be revived at some point, and if passed, will have detrimental consequences for entitlement programs and American immigration policy as we currently know it.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), a possible candidate for Paul Ryan’s job after his retirement, was quoted saying, “we want to get a farm bill passed obviously to get the work requirements in place. And we also want to get an agreement on how to address the immigration problem and we’ve been making a lot of headway.”

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