Before the echoes of the gavel signifying defeat of a U. S. House of Representatives farm bill proposal that has been years in the making died out, representatives from both sides of the aisle began the inevitable and inexcusable finger pointing that promises to make reworking the bill even more difficult.

The Republicans blamed the Democrats for trying to protect the nutrition program; the Democrats blamed the Republicans for cutting too deeply into nutrition programs and for a failure of leadership. Apparently lost in the debate is what would be best for America’s farmers and ranchers, public-funded research and the nation’s food security.

The final vote tally on the bill was 195 for and 234 against, with 171 Republicans voting for the bill and 62 against. Twenty-four Democrats voted for the bill and 172 voted against it.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, expressed disappointment in the vote on a bill his committee has worked on for several years. “I’m obviously disappointed,” Lucas said in a statement following the vote, “but the reforms in H.R. 1947 - $40 billion in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to SNAP since 1996 - are so important that we must continue to pursue them. We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need."

His Democrat counterpart, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., House Agriculture Committee ranking member, was less optimistic and a bit more accusatory in remarks following the vote.

The farm bill failed to pass the House today because the House Republicans could not control the extreme right wing of their party, Peterson said. “From day one I cautioned my colleagues that to pass a farm bill we would have to work together. Instead, the House adopted a partisan amendment process, playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law.

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“This flies in the face of nearly four years of bipartisan work done by the Agriculture Committee. I’ll continue to do everything I can to get a farm bill passed but I have a hard time seeing where we go from here.”