Ninth in a series.
WASHINGTON — Since the 1960s, the farm bill has represented an ultimate exercise in Washington dealmaking, stuffed with special-interest agriculture subsidies favored by rural Republicans as well as spending for the nation’s food-stamp program favored by urban Democrats.
But in modern, gridlocked Washington, even the old traditions no longer seem to apply. “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine,’’ has been replaced with, “You gut my programs, and I’ll kill yours.’’
The latest example: The House on Thursday defeated the farm bill, 234 to 195, leaving the fate of nearly $1 trillion in farm subsidies and food-stamp programs in limbo.
Sixty-two Republicans defected on the vote, a reflection of House Speaker John Boehner’s struggles to rein in his restive GOP caucus. By the end of the day, Republicans were blaming Democrats, Democrats were blaming Republicans, and members of the Senate — which has already passed its own version of a farm bill — were criticizing the House.
“It is a sad day in the House,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a newly elected Democrat from New York. “And it’s a tough education for those of us who have come here to work together, across the aisle.”
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