Republicans Are Scrambling to Find Votes for Their Farm Bill - It's Probably Doomed

The Right Wing

The Republican House leadership is intent on forging ahead with a farm bill that isn't guaranteed at this time to pass the House, and almost certainly cannot pass the Senate. Vulnerable Republicans don't like it because it will open them up to a charge that they're trying to make more people go hungry. Nihilistic Republicans—and the interest groups that amplify them—don't like it because it either helps farmers who aren't their constituents to much, or doesn't help their own farmers enough. But Speaker Paul Ryan and team are plowing ahead with a vote planned for next week:

As of Thursday afternoon, Conaway had not secured support from a number of Republican lawmakers after several days of meetings. But he told reporters that he is convinced that they will come around. The date of the floor debate has not been set, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it would be considered next week.

Conaway said Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) had not provided him an official headcount from the whip held Wednesday, but he has a list of members he thinks he needs to sway. The Texas Republican declined to say how many are in his sights. […]

“Without amendments, the farm bill lacks enough Republican support,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters. “That being said, it’s a work in progress. We’re hopeful to put some forth amendments that truly support our ag community. If it does that, I think you’ll find a number of Republicans willing to come on board.”

Adding to the mix, there's a maybe veto threat from the occupier of the Oval Office. Trump hasn't said absolutely that he'd veto a farm bill that doesn't include the work requirements for food stamp recipients—the breaking point for Democrats—but he's nosed up to that line. Which is great for all those vulnerable Republicans in farm states who are already reeling from the Chinese retaliation to Trump's tariffs.

Republicans are also looking at this as a bad vote that might not going anywhere in the end. It's unlikely that 11 Democratic senators would defect on a bill so bad for people, the environment, and the economy. That would make it a pointless bad vote in the House. Nobody likes to do that.

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