House rejects farm bill as conservatives revolt

House conservatives tanked a GOP farm bill on Friday over an intraparty feud over immigration, delivering a stunning blow to Republican leaders as they try to find a path forward on immigration.

In a 198-213 vote, GOP conservatives essentially joined Democrats in rejecting the measure, which would have introduced tougher work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that were a priority for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE (R-Wis.).

The whip count remained in question in the hours leading up to the dramatic vote, despite GOP leaders expressing confidence just minutes beforehand that they would have enough support to pass the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ryan and other GOP leaders frantically tried to flip members of the House Freedom Caucus from "no" to "yes" during the amendment vote series leading up to final passage.

At one point, Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: Taxpayers slow to file as they grapple with tax law | Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump probes | Feds charge Avenatti with trying to extort Nike | Yellen sees no recession in sight Financial Services Committee Republican: Maxine Waters's policies 'bad for America' Overnight Energy: Solar installations dropped in 2018 | UN report says rising Arctic temperatures 'locked in' | Fiat Chrysler to recall 850K vehicles MORE (R-N.C.), a chief deputy whip, was seen working Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) while Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump plots post-Mueller payback Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump investigations Winners and losers from Mueller's initial findings MORE (R-Calif.) was locked in an intense conversation with Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHouse conservatives ask Trump to declassify documents underlying Mueller investigation Jordan jokes that sport coats inhibit him during heated hearings House lawmakers clash over GOP allegations Dems coached Cohen MORE (R-Ga.).

Ryan, McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseScalise moves forward with plan to force vote on 'Abortion Survivors' act Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote This week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight MORE (R-La.) huddled with House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOmar controversy looms over AIPAC conference Winners and losers from Mueller's initial findings Mueller delivers a win for Trump — Five Takeaways MORE (R-N.C.) and Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanRaskin embraces role as constitutional scholar Winners and losers from Mueller's initial findings Jordan: Mueller report should end congressional investigations into Trump MORE (R-Ohio) and Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 House passes bill expressing support for NATO McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader MORE (R-Pa.) earlier as lawmakers voted on amendments to the bill.

Leadership made an offer to the Freedom Caucus that they could pick any date they wanted in June for a floor vote on a hard-line immigration bill crafted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-Va.), according to a source familiar with the discussion.

In the end it, it wasn’t enough. Meadows said his members needed more of a commitment from leadership on the Goodlatte bill.
 
“It was not fully clear,” Meadows said of the offer from leadership.

Leadership expressed disappointment after the vote, as did President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE.

"President Donald J. Trump is disappointed in the result of today’s vote in the House of Representatives on the Farm bill, and hopes the House can resolve any remaining issues in order to achieve strong work requirements and support our Nation’s agricultural community," said White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.

The White House vowed to "continue to work with Congress to pass a farm bill on time."

"Look, the farm bill got sidetracked by the immigration debate, just like America is getting sidetracked for the immigration debate," said McHenry, who took a shot at the Republicans who voted against the bill.

"We had enough members that were willing to vote for the farm bill, that liked the farm bill, but a small group that wanted to extract some direct pledge on immigration that we could not simply fulfill under their time frame," he said.

"Which is really a great disappointment that they would vote against a policy that they profess to support in order to get something immediate that was not in our legislative capacity."

A total of 30 Republicans voted against the bill. The GOP dissenters were largely a mix of Freedom Caucus members and moderates.

"This is all the more disappointing because we offered the vote these members were looking for, but they still chose to take the bill down," said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan.
 
Ryan also voted "no" on the measure for procedural reasons so that leadership could bring it back up again. Congress has until Sept. 30 to pass legislation reauthorizing federal farm and food programs.
 
After the failed vote, a frustrated Rep. Dennis RossDennis Alan RossEx-GOP lawmaker joins family firm  Ex-GOP lawmaker joins Florida lobbying firm Incoming GOP lawmaker says he may have violated campaign finance law MORE (R-Fla.) left the chamber warning that now more Republican members would sign a discharge petition intended to force votes on a series of immigration measures, including some likely to be backed by Democrats.

He said GOP leaders had sought to convince members to back the farm bill with this warning.

The discharge petition has badly divided Republicans and reminded the GOP of their stark differences on immigration.

The effort represents a revolt against GOP leaders, who generally control what comes to the floor. The petition would set up a "Queen of the Hill" process in which four immigration measures would be voted upon, with the one getting the most votes above 218 being sent to the Senate.

Democrats have been told to back the discharge petition, and GOP leaders have argued it effectively gives power to the minority party.

"The unfortunate thing is by this show today, it gives more leverage on the discharge petition, which I think is highly destructive," McHenry said following the vote.

The votes could lead to House passage of legislation that would shelter "Dreamers," immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. Helping these immigrants is important to Democrats and many of those backing the discharge petition, as an Obama-era program sheltering them from deportation is being unwound by Trump.

Republicans made a procedural motion after the vote that would allow Ryan to bring the bill to the floor again, though it seemed unlikely there would be another vote on Friday.

--Updated at 1:56 p.m.