WASHINGTON – House Republicans narrowly passed a farm bill Thursday that was stripped of hundreds of billions in funding for food stamps, abandoning four decades of precedent to gain the backing of conservative lawmakers.
The 216-208 vote was a victory for a Republican caucus that has struggled to pass the most basic of legislation, but it also set up weeks of acrimony and uncertainty as House and Senate leaders must reconcile two vastly different visions for providing subsidies to farmers and feeding the hungry.
The farm bill, which passed after hours of delay from irate Democrats, was the second act in a particularly hostile day on Capitol Hill — even by modern standards.
In the morning, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he planned to change long-standing Senate rules to push through presidential appointees that have been blocked by Republicans — a move so severe that it is known as the “nuclear option.” That led to a bitter, nearly two-hour exchange between the Nevada Democrat and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who at one point called Reid the “worst leader ever.”