Newly elected U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) is frustrated with his fellow legislators after they voted 234-195 to kill the $500 billion farm bill on June 20.
The bill, which was replete with bi-partisan concessions, primarily food stamp reform, did not fare as well as Republican leaders thought it would, receiving a number of dissenting votes from Congressmen on both sides of the aisle.
Smith, who voted yes, said the bill's demise has knocked everything back to square one.
"From my understanding, many of the Democrats voted no because of the food stamp cuts," said Smith, referring to the $20 billion in cuts to the program."The bill would also allow states to implement random drug testing and a welfare-to-work program, similar to what we had in 1996 with President Bill Clinton, where the idea was to work yourself off the system."
Smith also said for some Republicans, the cuts to the food stamp program weren't deep enough.
"The food stamp program is a mandatory spending program," Smith added. "Unless you pass a bill to change it, it's only going to continue to grow. I would have liked to have cut more, but we have to pass something."
Smith said the cutoff for a farm bill is Sept. 30. Without a new law or current-law extension, rates will return to those set in a law from the 1940s, which could affect the cost significantly.
For example, the cost of a gallon of milk could double as the result of the change.
Smith said the idea for reform is simple, but moving forward is a different story.
"With the farm bill, we have to eliminate direct payments to farmers and replace it with crop insurance. That would provide certainty to the farmers.
"And we need to reform the food stamp program to where we're trying to incentivize people to get off the program instead of being reliant on it."
According to a June 20 report from Reuters, this is the first time in at least 40 years that the House of Representatives has voted down a farm bill.