Farm Bill Brings Out the Worst in House Republicans


The recent farm bill, which passed on Thursday by a vote of 216-to-208, has triggered hostile debate between and vicious oratory by both Republicans and Democrats. Partisan tensions reached an unnecessary level, when Republican representatives Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) continually objected to keep statements made by their Democratic colleagues in the congressional record. The Democrats addressed their belief that the exclusion of food stamps would increase hunger in America. Comments such as the ones made by the two Republican gentlemen are simply ruses to engage in further partisan bickering; the two legislators clearly have no concrete basis for objection except, well, they just don't like they what the opposition is saying.

Before the votes were taken on the revised bill, Democratic opponents requested to "revise and extend" their remarks, a common routine that is almost never with objection.

"Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in strong opposition to the farm bill rule and the underlying bill because it will increase hunger in America," Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) asked.

"Objection!" Rep. Gohmert yelled.

This action was repeated as several Democrats continued to revise their comments —

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) interjected, saying,

"I think it is extremely unfortunate that members on the other side of aisle would deny members on this side of the aisle the ability to insert written materials in the record. In all my years here, I have never seen such a discourteous gesture."

I find that Gohmert's comments are inflammatory and do not show respect of the simplistic, brief comments each member is permitted to insert into the record. You can watch the interaction here.

Subsequently, after the vote was tallied, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) was recognized by the floor to express her displeasure with the bill's passage. She calls it a "sad day in the House of Representatives," and immediately there is an objection yelled by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.). As is procedure, when a member objects to comments made on the floor, the statement is reviewed to see if the comments violated any House rules. Eventually, Rep. Brown was permitted to continue as Rep. Woodall rescinded his objection.

As you can see from the videos, these occurrences don't achieve anything. They cause unnecessary tension and bickering among both parties and are unproductive. 

The revised Republican bill, which saves an additional $20 billion by curbing numerous farm subsidy programs, excluded the SNAP program, or food stamps, which accounted for nearly 80% of the original bill's cost. House Democrats have responded by vehemently denouncing the bill's adverse affects on "rural America." Representative Rosa DeLaura (D-Conn.) went so far as to say that "a vote for this bill is a vote to end nutrition in America." Over 48 million Americans use the food stamp system.

The bill achieved for the first time in numerous decades, a separation between farm policy and food stamps. House Republicans now intend to draft an independent bill addressing food stamp cuts. There is sure to be continued debate about the implications of the bill in the coming weeks, but these kind of partisan disputes discourage cooperation and are childish, especially coming from two elected Republican representatives.