The GOP House Defeats Itself

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 21 2013 @ 12:09pm

Yesterday, a Republican farm bill unexpectedly failed in the House. Barro explains what happened:

Opposition was bipartisan. Almost all Democrats voted no because they opposed the food stamp cuts. But 60 Republicans also voted against the bill, mostly because it didn’t cut enough. This is another demonstration of the impossible hand that Speaker John Boehner is playing. He wants his caucus to pass alternatives to Democratic policy proposals from the Senate. But the conservative wing of his caucus places high demands and is willing to vote against leadership-backed proposals.

Chait sees the bill’s failure as “yet another self-defeating rebellion from the right”:

The ultraconservatives could have formed a coalition with liberals who like food stamps to cut agri-socialism. Or they could have formed a coalition with Republicans who like agri-socialism but hate food stamps. Instead, they decided neither one cuts enough money and sunk the bill altogether. It’s actually tragic that there’s finally a large block of Republicans willing to slash the worst domestic program in government, but they’re too crazy and hateful to actually get it done.

Weigel looks ahead:

We’re talking here about a bill that passed in fairly ideal Senate circumstances—a better than 2-1 bipartisan majority. What’s another bill that’s allegedly going to be built like that? The immigration bill, of course.

Beutler also focuses on immigration:

You can watch the farm bill fail and reason that Boehner might think immigration reform isn’t worth it. Or you can watch the farm bill fail and reason that he might decide to dispense with all the member management theatrics and throw in with Democrats and GOP donors. But you can’t watch the farm bill fail and see the House GOP passing a Hastert-rule compliant immigration reform bill and going into conference with the Senate.

Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas have a different perspective:

The prospects of immigration have always relied on the theory that it’s a unicorn — that Republicans see a strategic need to pass it, or let it pass, that they don’t see for virtually anything else in government. Or, to put it differently, the idea is that immigration reform is an exception to the precise rules that doomed the farm bill. Whether that’s true remains to be seen. But the farm bill’s failure doesn’t prove it false.