MSNBC's Alex Wagner opened up this Thursday's The Last Word by reminding the audience that "earlier this week, we asked the question, John Boehner, 'Worst Speaker ever?' After the implosion on the House floor today, I think we can remove the question mark."
It seems the days of the farm bill being bipartisan legislation that easily passed through both chambers of Congress are now long gone, with House Republicans passing a poison pill with severe cuts to the SNAP program they already knew was a deal killer for Democrats, and then those same House Republicans who voted for the poison pill voting against the bill and their leader, John Boehner.
As Diane already noted here, Republicans and the likes of Eric Cantor were trying to place the blame on Democrats and Nancy Pelosi for the bill not passing. As Wagner highlighted here, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was having none of it on the House floor this Thursday.
The Hill has more on the back and forth: Cantor, Hoyer trade blame on farm bill failure:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) blamed each other for the House's failure to pass the farm bill Thursday.
Hoyer started by accusing House Republicans of taking a bipartisan bill that was reported by the Agriculture Committee, and turning it into a partisan bill by adding a controversial provision that would have given states the option of limiting food stamps.
"So I tell you with all due respect Mr. Majority Leader … I wasn't going to bring up what happened today," Hoyer said. "But what happened today is you turned a bipartisan bill, necessary for our farmers, necessary for our consumers, necessary for the people of America, that many of us would have supported, and you turned it into a partisan bill." [...]
"There never was an intention at all for our side to say we want to take away the safety net of the food stamp program," Cantor said. "Absolutely not. This was a pilot project, that was it."
Cantor then said Democrats are to blame for the farm bill's failure, since they refused to allow a bill to go forward that would have been conferenced with the Senate.
"What we saw today was a Democratic leadership in the House that was insistent to undo years and years of bipartisan work on an issue like a farm bill, and decide to make it a partisan issue," Cantor said, his voice rising as he spoke.
Hoyer's own voice was turned up a notch when he responded by saying the GOP's call for the regular order of conferencing bills with the Senate rings hollow, as Republicans are objecting to a conference on the budget. He also said Republicans are to blame for including several food stamp proposals that Democrats are known to oppose, and then holding a vote that loses 62 Republicans, about a quarter of the GOP conference.
"So don't blame Democrats for the loss today," Hoyer said. "You didn't bring up the farm bill when it was reported out on a bipartisan basis last year. You didn't even bring it to the floor because your party couldn't come together supporting their chairman's bill."
Hoyer added that on the budget, he doubted Republicans could support splitting the difference between the House and Senate plans given opposition with in the GOP conference.
Wagner's fellow MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Melissa-Harris Perry joined in to discuss John Boehner's future as Speaker of the House and his lack of control over his caucus and whether he's going to take a hard turn to the right to get this bill passed, which is going to create a whole new set of headaches with getting the bill passed in the Senate.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, because as they discussed as well, this bill isn't one that they're going to allow to languish any more than they would a defense authorization bill. And it's unique because it's one of the few times we see the interests of those who have some pull in Washington, like these wealthy farmers, tied to those in poverty.
I agree with Hayes, who told the audience here just as he did on his own show tonight that this bill was so bad, he was glad to see Republicans kill it. Now the question, what do they end up trying to replace it with?