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Published June 21, 2013, 09:53 AM

Noem blames Obama for farm bill fiasco

While she characterized it as a bipartisan failure, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., blamed a veto threat from President Obama for the felling of the farm bill on the U.S. House floor Thursday.

By: Denise Ross, Forum News Service

While she characterized it as a bipartisan failure, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., blamed a veto threat from President Obama for the felling of the farm bill on the U.S. House floor Thursday.

Noem told reporters that House leaders believed they had enough votes to pass the bill, but Democratic votes fell far short of expectations.

"The president weighed in and really started to lobby the Democrat members against the bill, which I think had a big influence on the final outcome," Noem said. "In the end, only 24 Democrats voted for the bill. We lost a lot of Democrats we thought were going to support this bill and in the past had supported the farm bill."

The top Democratic member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., felt he could deliver 40 to 60 votes, Noem said, but then the Obama administration pressured Democrats to vote against the bill.

"Republicans deserve blame, too," Noem said. "We felt we had a few more Republican votes. They thought a 3 percent cut in the food stamp program wasn't enough."

No one is sure what might happen next, Noem said. She said it is unlikely the House would take up the version of the farm bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate.

"I don't think anybody was in a chatty mood after the bill failed," Noem said. "No plans for the future were announced. They were extremely disappointed."

Noem said many Republicans voted no because they didn't believe enough reforms to the food stamp program were included, while Democrats wanted no cuts to that program.

"Politics won over policy, and that's a sad day. They let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Now we don't get any of the reforms that were included (in a committee-passed bill). We had an opportunity to do good policy."

Noem said it's possible that another extension of the previous farm bill could be approved, but she hopes new legislation with reforms can pass in the House.

"A bill is much better than extension because it has reforms," Noem said. "I'm going to stay optimistic that we're going to figure out a way to get this farm bill done. I believe it's a national security issue. We decided decades ago that it's important for the U.S. to produce it's own food and not rely on another country."

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