The House narrowly passed a pared-back farm bill Thursday after Republican leaders stripped out the nutrition title — impacting food stamps and local food banks — to win back conservative votes.
The 216-208 roll call avoids a repeat of last month’s embarrassing collapse and for the first time in a year will allow House-Senate talks on a final farm package.
All but 12 Republicans supported the measure — in contrast with the 62 defections in June. And it was a badly needed, face-saving win for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), whose tactics contributed to last month’s loss and had bet heavily on the new approach to recover.
Nonetheless, the decision to jettison the nutrition title breaks with nearly a half century of precedent. And the GOP victory came at a huge political cost, splitting American agriculture and driving a wedge between urban and rural lawmakers who have long worked together on farm legislation.