In its final form, the bill still funds many discretionary programs at levels far below those sought by the Obama administration, which made for several hours of tense debate in the House and makes it unlikely that the Democratic Senate would approve the bill.
The agriculture bill is the third appropriation bill approved by the House, which approved the Military Construction/Veterans Affairs bill earlier this week, and the Department of Homeland Security bill earlier this month.
One of the biggest concerns Democrats had with the bill is the more than $600 million in cuts to the Women, Infants & Children nutrition program. These cuts largely remained intact, despite Democratic attempts on Tuesday to argue their case that this funding should be restored.
Republicans countered that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has other means of funding this program should enrollment increase and noted that enrollment has been falling.
Also surviving was a $30 million cut to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which Democrats said would make it harder for that agency to fight against commodity price increases through speculation. House Financial Services Committee ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) argued unsuccessfully on Tuesday to restore this funding or even allow more funds.
Democrats were able to have an amendment on the CFTC approved, but it made no material change to the bill, and was simply a vehicle for debating the issue.
Republicans were also unable to make many of the changes they wanted to see to the bill. Several attempts were made Thursday to cut spending even more, but were rejected in roll call votes.
For example, members overwhelmingly turned away a GOP proposal to cut discretionary spending by five percent or more. The House also rejected attempts to limit farm subsidy payments.
On Wednesday, the House rejected several amendments from Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) to cut the Food for Peace program, the International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program, and make further cuts to WIC.