Republicans Clash over Farm Bill

The House Republican Party appears deeply divided over the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill, with conservatives and Tea Party members using the agricultural legislation as a ideological cudgel issue to attack moderate Republicans and Democrats for wasteful government spending.

For months, pressure has been mounting on both houses of Congress to pass a new farm bill. Earlier this summer, the Senate passed their version of the bill, one that protected crop insurance at the expense of several farm subsidies. While the House Agriculture Committee passed a draft of the farm bill, the House went to recess before taking up debate, a sign of just how fractured the GOP caucus may be.

Since July 11, when the Ag Committee passed their draft, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have both refused to put the farm bill on the House agenda, preferring instead to debate a temporary extension of the current farm bill. The delay has become politically damaging enough that some rural Republicans are working with rural Democrats, staging a rebellion against the Speaker, and petitioning to put the bill on the House agenda without his approval.

Sources in the House say that Boehner and Cantor worried that they did not have enough votes to pass the bill if it came up for debate. Conservatives and Tea Party leaders believe that the trillion-dollar price tag is too high and that the farm bill represents unnecessary government waste. Conservative groups like Americans for Tax Reform and the Club for Growth have even accused farmers of manipulating the drought to force the American people to accept, “a trillion dollars worth of bad agriculture policy.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer