Cantor, Hoyer trade blame on farm bill failure

"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."

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The language Hoyer referred to was an amendment from Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) that would have let states require food stamp recipients to work or look for work. Cantor responded to Hoyer by saying the amendment would have set up a pilot project that might have been used to help reform the food stamp program.

"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.

To that, Cantor shot back that Democrats are insisting on tax increases in the budget talks, and seem unable to agree to serious reforms on food stamps, a program that many auditors say is rife with fraud.

"It really is a disappointing day," Cantor concluded. "I think that the minority has been a disappointing player today."