The vote was 65 to 33 on the motion to table the amendment, #2182, to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240). The vote came shortly after the chamber tabled another amendment that would have repealed a subsidy program for producers of sugar crops.
Ahead of the vote, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the amendment was not meant to turn a cold shoulder on the country's poor — rather, it was meant to cut down on abuse of the food stamp program.
"Should you buy junk food on food stamps? Should you get to go to McDonald's on foodstamps?" Paul asked. "It's out of control. It's not about helping those in need. It's about being wise with the taxpayer dollars, it's about being wise with the taxpayer dollars and not giving people $20,000 a year in food stamps. We need to give it only to people who can't work, those who are in need, and those who are not able bodied. But we're giving it to millionaires."
Under Paul's amendment, each state would be allowed to decide how to apportion funding to the block grant system as long as the respective states followed a specific formula. According to Paul's office, $322 billion would be saved through the amendment.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) the co-sponsor of the farm bill, called the amendment outrageous.
"I strongly oppose this amendment, I urge my colleagues to table it," Stabenow said ahead of the vote. "This amendment is outrageous and would go completely against the commitment we as a country have made to help those who truly need it. I would urge that we vote 'yes' to table this amendment."