The House’s stunning defeat of the farm bill Thursday dealt another blow to Speaker John A. Boehner’s leadership and set off a poisonous round of partisan finger-pointing that raised questions about the ability of the chamber to craft bipartisan deals on immigration, the budget and the debt later this year.
As the dust settled after the resounding 195-234 vote, stakeholders traded blame over how the bill failed after days of debate on more than 100 amendments and were looking ahead to the fallout.
“I’d think that Democrats’ decision to sandbag us on the farm bill today makes it obvious how impractical it would be to rely on them for votes on immigration,” a GOP leadership aide said.
Democrats contended just the opposite — that Republicans had taken their votes for granted and jammed partisan amendments down their throats.
“It shows [Boehner] can’t pass anything with his own votes,” a Democratic leadership aide said. “The progress with immigration needs to be bipartisan … the only answer is, they gotta work with Democrats. They don’t have a choice.”
Republicans fumed, however, that Democrats promised they would deliver 40 votes only to withdraw them at the very last minute. Sixty-two Republicans voted against the bill, while two dozen Democrats supported it.
Most Democrats opposed the bill, unhappy with a $20.5 billion, 10-year cut to food stamps and backed by a White House veto threat, while Republicans split into competing factions, with a sizable group egged on by a host of conservative interest groups opposed the bill over concerns it did not cut deeply enough.