U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she was extremely disappointed that a five-year farm bill failed in the House on June 20.
“We failed to do the right thing, and we put our food security at risk,” said the second-term House member and former farmer from Castlewood.
She placed the blame on Democrats and Republicans alike, with the bill defeated by a tally of 234 to 195.
When asked what was next, a downbeat Noem said there are no plans.
“I don't think anybody was in a very chatty mood,” she said when asked whether she had any discussion with others about what to do next.
The Senate passed its version of the farm bill on a bipartisan 66-27 vote earlier in June, and the House leadership, including Speaker John Boehner, had hoped to get the bill into conference committee with the senators to strike a deal.
Noem said some of the Democrats were against the House bill because of its 3 percent cut in food stamps, which make up $75 billion to $80 billion of the overall $100 billion annual cost of the proposed new farm bill.
She acknowledged that many Republicans, however, thought the cuts in food stamps weren't enough.
On top of that, many thought the farm subsidies were too generous, including legislators from both parties.
Noem said she thought the bill would pass, but she said only 24 Democrats voted for it despite a prediction by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., that he could get 40 to 60 votes. Peterson, who represents western Minnesota, is the ranking Democrat on the House Ag Committee.
A total of 62 Republicans voted against the bill, despite pleas from their farm-state colleagues and the House leadership.
A total of 218 votes was needed, but it got only 195.
“Politics won over policy,” Noem said. She also put blame on President Obama, who might have influenced some of the Democrats to vote against the bill because of the food stamp cuts and disagreements over some of the farm benefits in the bill.
Noem agreed that it showed the dysfunction that appears to be the norm nowadays in Washington, D.C.
“It's been a difficult day,” she said.
She's upset that she couldn't convince enough of her colleagues how important farm and food policy is to the country and how it's needed to keep a safe and affordable food supply for the nation.
Noem noted that the original bill – before the House added about 100 amendments – had passed out of the House Ag committee on a bipartisan 36-10 vote.
“I guess the status quo goes forward,” she said as, for now, there will be no reforms in the food stamp program or an end of direct payments to farmers, a flashpoint for many who criticized spending in the farm portion of the bill.
She also said the bill would have saved $40 billion over the five years by cutting or streamlining 100 programs.
The House cuts would have included more than $2 billion annually from the food stamp program, while the Senate version cut about $400 million per year from the program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).