- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican Senate hopeful and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ House delegation to vote against a nearly $100 billion-a-year farm bill on Wednesday, prompting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor to criticize his challenger as not representing the state’s interests.

Cotton, who represents south Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District, voted against the compromise measure that won House approval. Republican Reps. Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack all voted for the measure, which now heads to the Senate.

Cotton criticized the nearly 1,000-page measure, saying the measure didn’t cut enough from food stamps and didn’t do enough for the state’s farmers. The bill ultimately would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, or around 1 percent.

“Arkansas taxpayers cannot continue to foot the bill for President Obama’s failed policies and Arkansas farmers shouldn’t be held hostage to President Obama’s runaway food-stamp program,” Cotton said. “I will continue to fight for policies that support Arkansas farmers and protect Arkansas taxpayers.”

Pryor and Republican Sen. John Boozman have said they support the measure. Pryor has criticized Cotton for opposing earlier versions of the farm bill, and on Wednesday accused the Republican lawmaker of siding with conservative groups such as the Club for Growth that had opposed the measure.

“It’s reckless and irresponsible for Congressman Cotton to put his own ambitions ahead of what’s best for Arkansans, and the people of our state deserve better,” Pryor said.

Cotton’s campaign, in response, said Pryor opposed what it called critical reforms to the food stamp program.

Crawford, Griffin and Womack called the measure a bipartisan effort, but acknowledged it didn’t please everyone.

“Ultimately, this report, like many of the other bipartisan agreements that have been signed into law, moves the ball forward by making much-needed reforms to federal programs and reducing spending,” Womack said.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau praised the bill’s passage. The five-year bill was approved on a 251-166 vote.

“This is far from a perfect bill, but we do welcome the certainty it brings to farmers and ranchers,” Farm Bureau President Randy Veach said.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo .

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