Kansas lawmakers in U.S. House split vote on farm bill

6/22/2013

By AMY BICKEL

By AMY BICKEL

Special to The Telegram

Republicans Tim Huelskamp, R-Hutchinson, and Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, voted no on the House's version of the farm bill, splitting the vote with Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, and Lynn Jenkins, R-Holton, who both voted yes.

The Federal Agriculture and Reform and Risk Management Act failed 234-195 Thursday.

Pompeo said in a statement that he was concerned with the "out-of-control food stamp program that swallows up 80 percent of this trillion-dollar bill before we even get to agriculture policy."

He also was concerned about the energy title, saying it provided millions to industries he called politically favored like "green energy" and a "Soviet-style milk program that raises the cost of dairy staples for every Kansas consumer."

Huelskamp, Kansas' Big First representative who was ousted from the House Agriculture Committee last winter, also said he was against the amount dedicated to food stamp spending and couldn't vote for something that only authorized a reform of $20 billion, which he stated was only 15 percent of the reduction House Republican leadership had promised.

"I could not vote for a bill that locks in the massive expansion of the food stamp program and spends nearly 80 cents of every dollar on food stamps," he said. "Food stamp spending has nearly tripled since 2002."

Huelskamp also said more people voted for his amendment to reform food stamps than voted in favor of the farm bill. He was the lead sponsor of an amendment that would have created additional work requirements for food assistance recipients.

"There's a clear path to Farm Bill passage — we must target food stamps to those who need it and transform the program through work requirements," he said. "Put another way, I am confident there's a bill that at least 218 House Republicans can and will support. I encourage the House GOP leadership to take advantage of the best opportunity in a generation to reform the biggest means-tested welfare program we have."

According to The Associated Press, voting yes were 24 Democrats and 171 Republicans.

Voting no were 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans.

Last week, Kansas's two Republican senators were also split on the Senate's version of the farm bill. Pat Roberts voted no, calling the measure a return to the past. Jerry Moran voted yes, saying that while the legislation wasn't perfect, it did meet two benchmarks most important to Kansas farmers and ranchers — expansions of the crop insurance and livestock disaster program.

The half-trillion-dollar Senate bill passed 66-27.

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