A classically strange-bedfellows alliance of California liberals and conservatives helped defeat the House farm bill on Thursday afternoon, embarrassing Republican leaders and casting the future of farm policy into disarray.
By a 195-234 vote, the House rejected the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act. For farm bill supporters, of course, the vote was a slap in the face. Freshman Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, declared that it was “inexcusable that members from both parties could not come together” on the five-year farm plan.
Other Central Valley lawmakers with pronounced agricultural roots likewise voted for the bill, including Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.
But the wide array of lawmakers who opposed the bill suggest the continuing difficulties the legislation’s authors will continue to face. Some of the naysayers, for instance, were staunch conservatives like Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove. A budget hawk, McClintock had failed in an effort to cut further funding from the bill, including with an amendment to eliminate the Market Access Program, which helps California farm groups and others advertise overseas. A number of McClintock’s conservative allies, like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, likewise opposed the bill.
From the other side of the aisle, California Democrats like Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, opposed the bill for a variety of reasons, including its cuts to the supplemental nutrition programs.
All told, 62 House Republicans joined 172 House Democrats in voting down the bill.