Farming the Election for Speaker of the House

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Fans of the vintage TV comedy Seinfeld will recall the episodes about Jerry and George pitching a TV show concept to a network, and when asked what’s the show about George blurts out, “It’s a show about nothing.”

The Farm Bill that failed in a humiliating defeat last week for RINO Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, was about a lot of things, but it was almost nothing about farming, or at least farming as the 98 percent of Americans who are not engaged in farming or ranching understand the term.

What it was about was the DC Swamp at its worst, and the small band of principled limited government constitutional conservatives who stood fast to drain that Swamp.

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Conservatives have long opposed the Farm Bill log rolling of tying food stamps and other welfare payments for the urban poor to subsidies for rural agriculture interests. This toxic mix of special interests guarantees that government will grow and spending will increase no matter what the employment or crop market may be.

But this year, at least on the first vote, the dynamic was different.

As our friend Rachel Bovard put it in an article for American Greatness:

…members of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC), led by Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) engaged in a high-stakes negotiation with House Republican leadership, attempting to trade their support for the farm bill for a concurrent vote on a border security bill.

The legislation, known colloquially as the Goodlatte bill, provides temporary work authorizations for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while ending family-based chain migration and authorizing the president’s wall at the southern border. Since the bill was introduced in January, Republican leadership has refused to bring it to the floor, despite its significant support within the Republican conference.

On Friday, the HFC had had enough. Unless House leadership brought the border security bill to the floor that day, the group made clear they would withhold their critical support from the farm bill. 

Republican leadership scoffed and called their bluff. The HFC’s bluff was good. Down went the farm bill.

Though the farm bill was the centerpiece of the action, agricultural policy has nothing to do with the voting down of this bill which, instead, has everything to do with the simmering levels of frustration at the GOP leadership’s refusal to deal with the issue of immigration.

Ms. Bovard’s larger point was that the House GOP’s leadership has prioritized the demands of liberal Republicans on open borders over conservative policy, and that the House Freedom Caucus finally called their bluff on a vote with serious political consequences for the Republican leadership.

But you would hardly know that if the establishment media was your only source of news about the Farm Bill.

Scanning through the top hits on Google news would tell you that the Farm Bill defeat was about sugar subsidies, work requirements for food stamps, cutting food stamps, the milk program, and a host of the other policy and pork barrel items that usually mark the Farm Bill debate.

Indeed, our friends at the Coalition to Reduce Spending said, the House rejected their version of the farm bill (H.R. 2), an extension of the 2014 bill—one that allowed too much cronyism and waste… The House tried to jam through a farm bill that reforms the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, but did not address the wasteful crop insurance and subsidy programs. Fortunately, there was enough distaste to sink the bill and force leadership to bring everyone to the table and pass something with actual reforms.

Don’t believe this Farm Bill debate has anything to do with farm policy.

Ms. Bovard, senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, says the House Republican leadership has very little time to get this right, and the stakes could not be higher for the party, or for the race for Speaker.

We’ve told you before about House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the California liberal Republican who, in the “it’s my turn” way Congress operates, expects to be promoted to Speaker now that Paul Ryan is leaving Congress.

In being part of a team that thus far has failed in spectacular fashion to address this issue, says Ms. Bovard, “McCarthy is substantially weakened, even more so after the very public miscalculation on the farm bill. If his bid for Speaker has any chance of surviving, he cannot sustain these continued flops.”

Moreover, notes Bovard, McCarthy, once again, has been out-foxed by his more right-of-center dark-horse candidate for Speaker, Jim Jordan (OH-4). Jordan and the HFC have again proven their commitment to issues that the voters care about, and with a strategy as simple as “doing what we said we would do.”

Ms. Bovard’s take (and we agree) is that the House Republican leadership has one specific task in the coming weeks: to hold their conference together and oppose amnesty. To that end, they should bring the Goodlatte border security bill to the floor and stay on it until it passes the House. Should they fail, or yet again pivot to promises they have no intention of keeping, the Farm Bill showdown will merely be a prelude to the more dramatic confrontations that are to come.

We have explained several times that California RINO Kevin McCarthy is too dumb and incoherent to be Speaker. If the Farm Bill is any indication of his ability and inclination to advance conservative policy outcomes then we predict House Republicans will continue to lurch from disaster to disaster under his leadership.

Jim Jordan is the only candidate for Speaker who will ignite the conservative grassroots with the fire necessary to turnout the vote for the 2018 midterm election and keep the House in Republican hands. That is why we urge you to join CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie and over 100 other conservative leaders who signed an open letter to Jim Jordan urging him to run for Speaker. Click this link to add your name to the distinguished list of conservative leaders urging Jim Jordan to run for Speaker of the House.

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