Thomas Roberts   |  June 21, 2013

What does the farm bill failure mean for immigration?

The House voted down its own farm bill on Thursday. Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll, The Root’s Keli Goff, and MSNBC.com’s Steve Bennen join the Agenda Panel to discuss what this bill’s failure could mean for immigration reform.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> epic fail, the house shoots down its own farm bill . what does it say about the house gop ? and what could it mean for immigration reform ? speaking of the gop , race relations , a republican official in illinois e-mails what's characterized as a racist rant. but does the reaction point to this? those are the topics of today's agenda panel. andy crowley, kelly gulf, and steve bennett are here. he's a blogger for the wildly popular maddow blog. good to see you. thank you for being with us on a friday.

>> thanks.

>> andy , we'll talk about the farm bill that was voted down 195-234. 62 republicans voting against the bill. 24 democrats voting for the bill. it was supposed to be all but certain, house speaker john boehner on tuesday all but guaranteed passage. what happened here, andy ?

>> we saw another instance of the republican leadership in the house, not having control and not being able to corral the more conservative members of their caucus. house speaker boehner and house speaker cantor were confident this farm bill would pass as they have for other farm bills in the past. the farm bill is usually bipartisan. it is in, you vote on it and it goes, but in this case more conservative members of the caucus just could not live with this bill. they didn't think that the steep food stamp cuts, $20.5 billion cuts, were steep enough. and so they revolted just as they have on issues in the past we have seen under speaker boehner .

>> steve, one would think that the votes would have been counted before the vote was taken, as is usually the case with bills, especially bills like this. did that not happen here?

>> well, yes, i think that's right. the house majority leader eric canton and john boehner fell on their faces on this one. they assumed it was a foregone conclusion this was going to pass, and this was part of a larger pattern. the gop leadership has struggled consistently with their ability to lead and govern. and they are overseeing a house majority caucus that doesn't seem willing to be led. it's not a good combination spelling trouble for the rest of the congress.

>> some republicans are saying that democrats initially said they would support the bill then pull that support to embarrass members of the gop . both sides are essentially blaming the other for the failure. let's take a listen.

>> what is happening on the floor today was a demonstration of major amateur hour. they didn't get results and they put the blame on somebody else. if we ever came to you when we had the majority and said we didn't pass the bill because we didn't get enough republican votes, well, you know, that's really silly. it's sad. it's juvenile. it's unprofessional. it's amateur hour.

>> what we saw today was a democratic leadership in the house that was insistent to undo years and years of bipartisan work on an issue like a farm bill and decide to make it a partisan issue.

>> kelly , any truth to that at all?

>> well, i mean, i get that it is a little silly the one member of congress they were willing to throw under the bus was representative collin peterson , and he's a democrat. and that's the only member of congress the republicans were willing to blame for the defeat of sensibly their bill, right? so it was a little ridiculous. i think what's going on here is an ongoing civil war within the gop where they can't really decide who controls their party. are they going to be the grassroots party of conservativism or they let the party lobby for arms like that worried about taxes and not worried about rural america write their policy.

>> andy , what might we gleam from what transpired with the farm bill , what might that tell us about the future of immigration reform ? about other issues like the budget moving forward?

>> well, i think that there are few lessons to take away from this. i do think that it shows speaker boehner , majority leader cantor, the republican leadership, they have an incredibly heavy lift trying to convince their members that the immigration bill in whatever form that's going to be is something they should support, but i would urge a note of caution. the immigration bill is sort of its own creature. i don't think the rules that apply to more traditional legislation like the farm bill , for instance, or like the budget when republicans revoted against boehner 's plan b , i don't think the immigration bill fits in that same groove. it is -- it stands alone. republicans see this as a strategy issue as well as legislation because if they block immigration, that has electoral consequences. so take caution, but also it is another sign that boehner and cantor really have their work cutout for them.

>> let's switch topics and talk about earlier this week. montgomery county party jim allen sends this e-mail to a web news out there. the e-mail is about erika harold . she's a former miss america who is challenging gop congressman rodney harrisson. this was from the e-mail. miss queen is being used like a streetwalker and her pumps are the democrat party and rino republicans . he goes on to say that she'll be back, when she loses, she'll be back, quote, working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires. again, that's the e-mail that he sent there, kelly . kelly , what does this tell us about the gop 's outreach effort?

>> well, i think that we know what it tells us about rodney davis , excuse me, about the man who wrote the e-mail, mr. allen, that raises questions on his own i.q. anyone who knows erika, this is a woman who graduated from harvard law school and when she won miss america her long-term member was to become a member of the senate. she would be a great candidate for either party to have. that set aside, there are so many instances of racist comments made about president obama in his first year of office as president by republican elected officials, republican activists that new york magazine compiled a slideshow. congressman jeff davis called president obama boy in his first year of office and had to apologize if you all remember. the reason i bring this up is because representative davis announced he's retiring. the point i'm trying to make is that the gop recognizes people like that represent the past. and if they want to have a future, it belongs to people like erika harold , which is why i think it is significant the chairman of the rnc reince priebus asked this guy to resign, which he did yesterday. the gop has to get on board to support minority voters and the rnc is finally taking it seriously. they demanded he resign, he did. they started staffing up and started minority hires and they have chairman priebus appear on the morning show doing a listing tour. i think they are finally starting to get the message and we'll see if it will result in them whipping more support from people of color .

>> as is the case when things like this happen and it hits the fan, joe allen has since apologized saying in part, quote, my comments are very inappropriate and wrong. and i apologize to ms. harold and her campaign and her supporters. he resigned as you noted. steve, you wrote a piece on this as well, headline, another setback in the gop 's outreach efforts. what more does this say about that?

>> well, i feel like it's a problem here for republicans in as much as a cumulative effect. if it is just one isolated official in illinois , it would be easy to forget, but i think that there's this pattern that republicans are struggling with. it is not just this one official in illinois . we also heard last week from congressman jeff duncan who made a birther joke on a radio show . i think that has a rayist undertone. and judge edith jones had a problem in terms of suggesting that african-americans and latinos are more committed to crime. there was a report authored by a person who said white people have higher i.q.s than minorities. i think all this when put together suggest that is the party has a problem when it comes to minorities in outreach.

>> i would agree but the fact they never ask people to resign previously was part of the larger problem. if you don't acknowledge you have a problem then the problem continues. the fact they stepped up immediately and said this guy has to go is significant. let's hope we see more of it.

>> and we've got to go as well. good to see you, folks. if you did