On a 195-234 vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a proposed new five-year farm bill that would have changed eligibility so that 1.8 million lower-income Americans would lose benefits, 210,000 children would have lost their free school meals, and 850,000 families would have seen their benefits cut by an average of $90 a month.
The House bill called for $20.5 billion in draconian cuts to food stamps over 10 years -- compared to $3.9 billion in cuts in the Senate bill.
The Bee's editorial board urged the House to reject the food stamp cuts -- and, if the bill passed, for the president to veto it.
Sixty-two Republicans voted against the bill (wanting deeper cuts to food stamps) and 24 Democrats voted for it (for reasons other than food stamps).
Our local delegation split on the issue, and not along party lines:
District 1: Doug LaMalfa (R): Yes
District 4: John Garamendi (D): Yes
District 5: Mike Thompson (D): No
District 6: Doris Matsui (D): No
District 7: Ami Bera (D): Yes
District 9: Jerry McNerney (D): Yes
District 10: Jeff Denham (R) Yes
District 11: George Miller (D): No
District 12: Nancy Pelosi (D): No
Failure to pass a bill and move on to negotiations between Senate and the House on a final version means there is little hope of getting a five-year farm bill to President Obama before the current extension of the farm bill expires on Sept. 30.
That probably means that Congress will have to pass another one-year stopgap measure. Alternatively, House leaders could bring the Senate version of the farm bill to the floor for a vote -- which would garner enough Democratic votes to pass, even if many Republicans vote against it. That is the better course, with a better bill for California and the nation.