Last week, the House of Representatives defeated the Farm Bill, an atrocious measure that would have spent $940 billion over the next five years. While Republican leaders have been quick to blame Democrats, some in the caucus are expressing their frustration behind the scenes at fiscal conservatives who help killed the measure, according to Politico (emphasis mine):
Almost a week after Republicans failed to pass the nearly $1 trillion, five-year agricultural package through the House, Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders are feeling the heat from frustrated lawmakers sick of screw-ups.
Republican Reps. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota separately stood up at a GOP meeting Wednesday and confronted their leadership about its bumbling legislative strategy and inability to figure out a way forward on the massive legislation, according to multiple sources at the meeting.
Noem, who once served in Republican leadership, took aim squarely at Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). She reminded him that he controls the House floor, and she drilled Cantor hard on his precise plans to mop up the mess, several Republicans who attended the meeting said. Cantor wasn’t able to outline a plan that satisfied Noem, and he blamed Democrats for the bill’s defeat.
Noem — usually a quiet figure in GOP circles — also warned the 61 Republicans who opposed the farm bill after voting for tougher work requirements for food-stamp recipients that she will not be supporting them in the future. Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and other lawmakers were later heard on the floor backing Noem in her heated dispute with Cantor.
Cramer, a first-term lawmaker, read aloud an editorial to his colleagues from a North Dakota newspaper, arguing that failing to pass a farm bill could end his brief congressional career. In an interview with POLITICO, Cramer said Republicans — especially committee chairmen — who voted against the farm bill are “jeopardizing the whole majority.”
This is reminiscent of internal budget battles that took place in 1997 between House Republicans. As author Stephen Slivinski chronicled in his book, Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich slammed a small group of fiscal conservatives during a party conference meaning, calling them the “perfectionist caucus.”
Those fiscal conservatives were trying to bring the Republican Party in line with the principles of the Contract with America and saw that the party leaders were deviating from the promises they made to voters.
The fiscal conservatives who voted against the Farm Bill last week are no different. House Republican leaders made a promise to cut spending, but they saw before them a bill that spent too much — in fact, it was 56% more expensive than the $604 billion Farm Bill that was passed in 2008 — and brought nothing in terms of real reform to agriculture policy.
If Republican leaders wanted to pass a Farm Bill, they should’ve offered something that fiscal conservatives could stomach instead of shutting them out while trying to placate big-spending House Democrats.
And about Noem and Cramer — the two House Republicans expressing their frustration with fiscal conservatives — these two aren’t exactly friends of the taxpayer. Noem has a 43% score for the current Congress. Cramer is even worse, at 14%. To give you an idea of how bad these two are, Rep. Nancy Pelosi has a higher score (57%) for the current Congress.