House conservatives tanked a GOP farm bill on Friday over an intra-party feud over immigration, delivering a stunning blow to Republican leaders as they try to find a path forward on immigration.
In a 198-213 vote, GOP conservatives essentially joined Democrats in rejecting the measure, which would have introduced tougher work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] that were a priority for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The whip count remained in question in the hours leading up to the dramatic vote, despite GOP leaders expressing confidence just minutes before hand that they would have enough support to pass the bill.
Ryan and other GOP leaders frantically tried to flip members of the House Freedom Caucus from no to yes during the amendment vote series leading up to final passage.
At one point, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), a chief deputy whip, was seen working Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) while Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was locked in an intense conversation with Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)
Ryan, McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) huddled with House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) earlier as lawmakers voted on amendments to the bill.
Leadership made an offer to the Freedom Caucus that they could pick any date they wanted in June for a floor vote on a hardline immigration bill crafted by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), according to a source familiar with the discussion.
In the end it, it wasn’t enough. Meadows said his members needed more of a commitment from leadership on the Goodlatte bill.
House Republicans desperately want to save their jobs by putting an immigration bill in front of the Senate and forcing Senate Republicans to save them, so the Freedom Caucus is now apparently ready to scuttle the farm bill in order to get their way.
I've talked about how horrible the Goodlatte immigration bill is before, and it's essentially the end of legal immigration as well as setting the stage for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. The House passing it would be pretty lethal to Senate Republicans, and they know it.
But not passing a farm bill would be worse (and the Freedom Caucus can blame Democrats, they figure.) We'll see who wins, but no matter what, Americans lose.
We can fix that in November.