GOP Freshmen Vote to Move Farm Bill Out of Committee

In the latest example of the so-called “Tea Party Class” of House Republicans not living up to the hype, GOP freshmen on the House Agriculture Committee voted overwhelmingly to approve a bloated $957 billion farm subsidy/welfare bill.

The overall vote was 35-11. Only 4 Republicans voted against it – the rest appear to be Democrats who weren’t happy that the bill doesn’t spend more money on food stamps. Republican freshmen occupy 16 of the 25 GOP seats on the committee. Only 3 out of the 16 voted against the bill.

  • Bob Gibbs (Ohio)
  • Tim Huelskamp (Kansas)
  • Marlin Stutzman (Indiana)

Here are the names of the 13 GOP freshmen who supported it:

  • Austin Scott (Georgia)
  • Scott Tipton (Colorado)
  • Steve Southerland (Florida)
  • Rick Crawford (Arkansas)
  • Martha Roby (Alabama)
  • Scott DeJarlais (Tennessee)
  • Renee Ellmers (North Carolina)
  • Chris Gibson (New York)
  • Randy Hultgren (Illinois)
  • Vicky Hartzler (MO)
  • Robert Schilling (Illinois)
  • Reid Ribble (Wisconsin)
  • Kristi Noem (South Dakota)

The question now is whether the House Republican leadership will allow the bill to come to the floor. According to the Washington Post, Speaker Boehner hasn’t decided:

Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., feels the committee did “an awful lot of good work,” Boehner said at a weekly news conference. But “no decisions about it coming to the floor at this point,” Boehner said…“There are some good reforms in this bill. There are other parts of the farm bill that I have concerns with,” Boehner said. He referred to what he said was “a Soviet-style dairy program in America today and one of the proposals in this farm bill would actually make it worse.”

Boehner has voted against farm bills in the past so he’s probably not eager to get this one to the floor, especially since advocates for free markets and limited government rightly consider the bill to be a disaster. But Boehner helped create this dilemma for himself when his Steering Committee gave Frank Lucas the chairman’s gavel after the 2010 elections. As Chris Edwards and I noted in a recent op-ed, Lucas is a big supporter of farm subsidies and takes pride in having been named a “Wheat Champion” by the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Back in December 2010, I wrote that “An indicator of the incoming House Republican majority’s seriousness about cutting spending will be which members the party selects to head the various committees.” Lucas’s chairmanship indicated that when it comes to bloated farm bills, the House leadership wasn’t serious. If this bill is allowed to reach the floor, any doubts will have been erased.