With a compromise farm bill finally coming to the House floor, it is worth taking a moment to review why it took this long to get here – endless Republican obstruction.
As Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz were taking the Republican war on health care reform to new extremes, forcing the government to shut down in the process, another political standoff defined by conservative radicalism received much less attention.
Last October, the farm bill expired, leaving uncertain the future of agricultural programs and essential food assistance for the poor. The expiration came after more than a year of intraparty squabbling among Republicans over the size of proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – commonly known as food stamps.
The House Agriculture Committee approved a five-year farm bill extension in July 2012, but congressional conservatives demanded major cuts to the food stamp program as ransom for their support. The debate carried over into the new Congress, where the Tea Party faction successfully blocked the bill from moving forward. Unable to satisfy the far right’s appetite for draconian cuts, Republican leaders eventually poisoned the process by severing the bill and passing “farm-only” legislation alongside a separate measure slashing funding for food stamps.Read more after the jump.