It appears some Democrats, who might have voted for the House bill, were repelled by a last-minute Republican amendment that added a punitive work requirement to food stamp eligibility rules. That came on top of an offensive amendment Republicans pushed through on Wednesday to authorize states to conduct drug testing of food stamp applicants, despite studies showing they are no more likely than nonbeneficiaries to be using drugs.
It is unclear exactly what the House bill’s defeat will mean for Mr. Boehner. It could mean trouble for immigration reform, which has bipartisan support in the Senate. One question is whether Mr. Boehner and other Republican leaders will try to secure the votes of the most radical party members by producing another version of the farm bill with even more devastating food stamp cuts or, worse, by turning the program into a capped block grant to the states.
President Obama and Congressional Democrats will need to stand strong against weakening an effective program that helps millions of Americans.