The chasm over the farm bill in Congress is no more evident than in Kansas where six conservative Republicans from an agriculture state are divided on the issue.
On Thursday, the farm bill failed in the U.S. House, splitting the Kansas delegation.
U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins, of Topeka, whose district includes Lawrence, and Kevin Yoder, of Overland Park, voted for it, while Mike Pompeo, of Wichita, and Tim Huelskamp, of Hutchinson, were among the 62 Republicans who voted against it. The bill failed in the House, 195-234.
Jenkins blamed the failure in the House on the inability to find common ground.
" … still too many Democrats and Republicans allowed politics to trump progress, and chose to defeat this bipartisan effort. I am truly disappointed by today's vote to accept a badly broken status quo," she said.
The Senate has approved a farm bill, but Kansas' senators were on opposite sides. Jerry Moran voted for it and Roberts opposed it.
In the House, Republicans voting against the bill argued it was too expensive. Most Democrats opposed the measure because it included cuts to food stamps that would have removed as many as 2 million recipients from getting assistance.
The Senate version decreased food stamps by about one-fifth of the House bill. The White House had said it supported the Senate bill and would have vetoed the House bill.
Kansas senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran were on opposite sides Monday on the farm bill that was approved 66-27 in the U.S. Senate.
Moran voted for the bill, while Roberts voted against it.
In statements, the two Republicans gave their reasons.
“The Farm Bill passed in the Senate meets the two benchmarks most important to Kansas farmers and ranchers: strong, stable crop insurance and disaster programs to provide livestock producers with confidence when faced with Mother Nature’s uncertainty," Moran said.
But Roberts said, “In this budget environment and at a time when we are looking to make smart cuts to farm programs, I cannot justify a subsidy program that can pay producers more than the cost of production and essentially becomes nothing more than an income transfer program, not a risk-management tool."
The bill, which will cost nearly $1 trillion over 10 years, finances crop insurance and food assistance for low-income families.
The Senate bill would cut $4.1 billion from food stamps over 10 years. The measure now goes to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. A House version would cut food stamps by $20 million.
Roberts was the ranking Republican member on the Agriculture Committee during the last Congress and supported last year's Senate-approved bill.
Roll Call reports that this year, changes made in the bill to win the support of the new ranking member, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and other Southerners caused Roberts to oppose the new version.link text
Earlier this year, Cochran asserted seniority privilege on the Agriculture Committee after having been dropped as the top Republican on another committee. This pushed aside Roberts as the top Republican on the committee, although he is still a member.