Legislating tends to be a highly orchestrated affair. That's because party leaders risk looking weak when they bring a bill to the floor and it gets rejected. That may be why Speaker John Boehner stonewalled the media after the House Farm Bill was defeated Thursday. The final vote: 195 to 234.
"What does this portend for tougher issues later this fall? Immigration, keeping the government open, debt ceiling? Is this a signal here?"
While the speaker may want to crawl under his desk, he's got work to do. The Senate already overwhelmingly approved its version of the legislation. The Senate's bill cuts food stamps, but the House version cuts deeper by an additional $20 billion.
Conventional wisdom says the speaker can pass the Senate bill if he relies on Democrats. Maryland Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards says it's time for Republican leaders to reach across the aisle.
"This has traditionally been done in a bipartisan way balancing the interest of our farmers, but the needs of people are really struggling," she says. "And I think this bill did not strike that balance, and it was a good idea for it to go down."
With the Farm Bill's unexpected defeat, it's unclear if the House will be forced to merely extend the program like they did last year.