GOP skips Obama farm bill signing

White House Live
Republicans skipped President Obama's signing ceremony on Friday for the $956 billion farm bill.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that 50 lawmakers including many Republicans were invited to the bill signing ceremony at Michigan State University, but no GOP members agreed to come. 
 
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Democrats attending the ceremony include Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Gary Peters, the expected Democratic nominee for Michigan's open Senate seat.

But House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (Minn.), a Blue Dog Democrat who is deciding this month whether to quit Congress, isn't in Michigan. An aide said he is attending to work in his district.

Republicans skipping out on the ceremony included House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (Okla.), who spent three years trying to get the bill done and has expressed pride in the bill's $16.6 billion in deficit cuts.
 
Prior commitments in Oklahoma prevented Lucas from attending, an aide said.
 
In a Friday statement, he hailed the bill.
 
"With the president signing the Agricultural Act of 2014 into law, we mark a new era of farm and food policy that values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs, and yet still providing an effective safety net for the production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling," Lucas said.
 
Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) was also absent. He was instrumental in getting more generous price-based subsidies for southern farmers and for keeping a catfish inspection program in place that critics say is meant to protect southern producers. 
 
"The new farm bill is an important achievement, particularly for the rural communities that sustain agricultural production in Mississippi and throughout the country," Cochran said in a statement Friday.
 
Both men face Tea Party challengers this year, which likely ruled out their appearing in Michigan with the president. Cochran, the second most senior Republican in the Senate, is seen as being vulnerable. Challenger Chris McDaniel has highlighted Cochran’s past support for spending ahead of the June 3 primary. 
 
Lucas is seen as less vulnerable but challenger Robert Hubbard only announced his candidacy last month. He has tried to make the spending in the farm bill an issue.
 
Also on hand were Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who helped negotiate the crucial dairy subsidy compromise that finished the bill, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who compromised to vote for $8 billion in food stamp cuts in the bill. That was far less than the $39 billion House Republicans had sought. 
 
This story was updated at 2:51 p.m.

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