06/24/2013 01:23 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2013

Farm Bill Failure Sparks Harry Reid Threat: Senate Won't Bail Out House With Stopgap

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) warned Monday that there would be no new bailouts for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) after the House failed last week to renew the nation's primary farm policy law for the second time.

The trillion-dollar farm bill is generally passed every five years. But it went down to defeat Thursday in the House after Republicans added an amendment that would have reduced food stamps even more than the $20 billion cut that at least 40 Democrats had agreed to support.

Last year, the House also failed to move the farm bill, instead passing a stopgap measure that kept the old policies in place for another year, and the Senate went along with that effort.

But Reid in his opening remarks on the Senate floor Monday said that he would not do so again, potentially setting up a showdown between the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-run Senate.

"The speaker should have known he couldn't pass legislation that amounts to a partisan love note to the tea party," Reid said.

The House amendment that made the overall bill so unpalatable to Democrats would have allowed states to push more people off food stamps by instituting additional work requirements.

Reid said the easy solution for Boehner is to take the Senate's bipartisan version of the bill, which passed with 66 votes, and let the House vote on that. Such a move would likely violate Boehner's principle of only holding votes on bills supported by a majority of his Republican House caucus, but the legislation would probably pass with backing from nearly all Democrats and moderate Republicans.

“The speaker should dispense with the drama and the delay, and take up the Senate farm bill now," Reid said, adding that he has the support of the Obama administration for his position.

"I've spoken over the weekend to Secretary [Tom] Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, and we agreed that maintaining the status quo is not an option. Doing nothing means no reform, no deficit reduction and no certainty for America's 16 million farm industry workers," Reid said.

"I want everyone within the sound of my voice -– as well as my colleagues on the other side of the Capitol –- to know that the Senate will not pass another temporary farm bill extension," he added.

A spokesman for Boehner did not immediately answer a request for comment. A GOP House aide pointed out, however, that the "Senate Democrats made the same threat last year and then passed a short-term extension." A spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House would not comply with Reid's suggestion.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.



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