WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives easily approved a new five-year farm bill Wednesday, ending nearly two years of contentious debate over how to cut agriculture subsidies and nutrition programs.
The final vote was 251-166. The
The final product averts deep cuts sought by Republicans in the federal food stamp program and ends direct payments to farmers — a controversial provision under the previous farm bill in which farmers received federal subsidies regardless of their output.
Conservatives had stymied efforts to pass a farm bill in the House last year, arguing in part that agriculture subsidy programs should be considered separately from
In a final speech urging his colleagues to support the measure,
"This bill … may not have exactly everything my friends on the right would want, or my friends on the left would want," he said. "It represents making the process work. Achieving consensus. Putting into place policies that are better than what were there before."
He also acknowledged the difficult path it had taken to reauthorize the 2008 farm bill.
"This farm bill might not be quite defined by most people as a miracle,'' he said. "But it's amazingly close."
The $956-billion bill extends through 2018. Sponsors, citing a
More than $18 billion of the savings comes from farm programs, while $8 billion is provided by cuts to the food stamp program. Some Democrats still opposed the bill, calling the food stamp cuts too deep.
"Some have rationalized these cuts,” Rep.
Still, 89 Democrats supported the measure, joining 162 Republicans to help send the measure to the Senate. Of the 166 "no" votes, 103 were from Democrats and 63 from Republicans, largely reflecting the objections of each party's base.