The Note: Who's In Charge Here?
PHOTO: Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management, widely known as the farm bill, failed to pass out of the House of Representatives June 20,2013.

Image credit: Getty Images

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WHY THE FARM BILL FAILED: House Republicans are pointing at Democrats as they try to explain why the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management, widely known as the farm bill, failed to pass out of the House of Representatives yesterday, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. The vote failed 195-234, winning the support of just 24 Democrats, and stunning the Republican leadership as their best option to advance a bill went down in flames. The $500 billion bill would have cut about $10 billion over the next five years from food stamps while increasing subsidies for certain crops. About $80 billion each year was marked for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food stamp program, disenchanting many Republicans who believed the cuts were not steep enough.
  • BEHIND THE VOTE: The bill's defeat is viewed as a crushing blow to House Speaker John Boehner, who until today had only voted for one farm bill in his 12 terms in Congress, but urged his colleagues to support it. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor admitted the bill was "far from perfect," but noted that "the only way to achieve meaningful reform" was to take the legislation to conference with the Senate. "I'm extremely disappointed that Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership have at the last minute chosen to derail years of bipartisan work on the farm bill and related reforms," Cantor, R-Va., stated. Rep. Collin Peterson, the top Democrat on the Agriculture committee, placed the blame squarely on "the extreme right wing" of the Republican Party. "From day one I cautioned my colleagues that to pass a farm bill we would have to work together. Instead, the House adopted a partisan amendment process, playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law," Peterson, D-Minn., wrote in a statement.
  • NOT EVERYONE LOVES THE NEW SENATE BORDER-SECURITY PLAN: A "deal" on border security may get attached to the Senate immigration bill, but not everyone is in love with it. In fact, some Republican senators have rejected it out of hand, ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports. GOP Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee yesterday proposed a new amendment calling for 700 miles of border fence and a doubling of U.S. border agents from their current staffing level of 21,000. While the amendment has been hailed as a "deal" that will bring new votes on board with reform, Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., doused the idea in cold, border-security-first water Tuesday afternoon as Corker and Hoeven were unveiling it. "I do not think this amendment is going to touch many of the objections that I spoke about," Sessions, R-Ala., told reporters.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': In a "This Week" Sunday exclusive, ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS goes one-on-one with National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander on the NSA's surveillance programs. And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, including the battle in Washington over immigration reform. Plus, in our Sunday Spotlight, Iraq War veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, discusses the role of women in combat. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Check the "This Week" page for full guest listings. Tune in Sunday:


ABC's RICK KLEIN: The failure of the farm bill in the House is one of those easy-to-roll-your-eyes-at developments, just another sign of Washington dysfunction and mistrust between the parties. But it's a stunner, and only the latest indication that there's nobody really running the House of Representatives these days. Republicans can blame Democrats for not delivering the promised votes, but that's a little like Greg Popovich pointing out the Spurs would have won if LeBron James had just missed the big shots like he was supposed to. It's not really House Speaker John Boehner's fault: Controlling the current House simply is not possible. That has big ramifications for immigration reform, budget deals, and just about everything else. In a sense, the Hastert rule hands control over to a majority of the GOP conference. It's a misleading label these days, though, since there's really no other choice for Boehner and his team.

ABC's JEFF ZELENY: It's an age of austerity in Washington. But that isn't stopping the Senate from signing off on a $30 billion plan to fortify the border. It is a bigger investment than anyone on the Hill would have imagined months ago, but a glowing CBO score gave senate negotiators more flexibility to supersize border patrols. Sen. Dick Durbin summed up the feeling of many in his party when I caught up with him yesterday: "I think many Democrats will look at this and view it as overkill on the border, but it does not stop our path to citizenship. That's what we were working to avoid."

ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: During the same week that Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that is pressing Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, announced the backing of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Republican outfit signaled all the enthusiasm coming from the Democrats would not go unanswered. The GOP super PAC, America Rising, unveiled a new website yesterday: "America Rising was formed to prevent Americans from ever having to see another Clinton in the White House," a message on the site reads. "We've seen what a President Hillary Clinton would be like from her time as Secretary of State. We can't afford another Clinton administration after eight years of President Obama." For the time being the site is merely a fundraising vehicle for the Republican super PAC, but it sends two key messages: First that Republicans believe Hillary Clinton will be a galvanizing force for opposition on the right and second that, even in this pre-election period when no candidates have officially announced for president, the former Secretary of State isn't going to get a pass from her foes in the other party.


MITCH MCCONELL TO TALK FREE SPEECH AT AEI. "The Senate Republican leader, who last year accused the Obama administration of Nixon-style dirty tricks, says the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups is part of a broader government assault on free speech," according to the Associated Press' Donna Cassata. "Seizing on the spate of controversies besetting the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says the American people are recognizing a pattern that encompasses government agencies, the administration and its allies in Congress, left-wing groups and public-employee unions and their coordinated attack on First Amendment rights. 'As serious as the IRS scandal is, what we're dealing with here is larger than the actions of one agency or any group of employees,' McConnell, who is up for re-election next year, said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. 'This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they're supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop.'"


TODAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE: This afternoon President Obama will make a personal announcement in the Rose Garden - the appointment of James Comey as the new FBI director, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL reports. Also today, the president will hold his first meeting with the recently-constituted Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

MORE ABOUT THE BOARD: President Obama first meeting with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is part of his plan to facilitate a public dialogue after controversial disclosure of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs, ABC's DEVIN DWYER notes. "The president looks forward to … discussing recent developments, to include the disclosure of classified information," a senior administration official said. The little-known oversight board was created in 2004 to review anti-terrorism programs implemented by the executive branch. But it has only convened intermittently and was dormant for Obama's first term. The newly reconstituted board is chaired by Obama appointee David Medine, a former associate director of the Federal Trade Commission. The board's other members include two former assistant attorneys general, a former federal judge and a nonprofit policy expert.

BIDEN TAKES ON IMMIGRATION REFORM FOES. Vice President Joe Biden talked immigration reform yesterday, criticizing a recent Republican vote and calling a Senate amendment "mean," at Esperanza's 2013 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, ABC's SERENA MARSHALL notes. Esperanza is one of the "largest Hispanic faith-based evangelical networks in the United States," according to its website. Serving as keynote speaker to the bi-annual three-day event, the vice president "urged" people ask why someone would take a journey from their homeland, "whether it's from Mexico or Ireland or Bolivia," to come to America. "We are going to sacrifice everything we have, everything we own, we are going to take you to a foreign land where they don't speak our language and you might never get a chance to come back home again. Is that an easy decision?" Biden asked."That's a hard decision. … We act like it's an easy decision for people to drop everything they have. Biden criticized an amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that passed in early June and would deport all DREAM Act beneficiaries by ending the president's 2012 order protecting young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

THE CONGRESSMAN WHO VINES. Some 190 Democratic representatives voted against a strict abortion proposal on Tuesday, but only one of them Vined it. "I don't highlight most of my votes. We vote dozens of times each week, but I thought this one deserved particular attention," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told ABC's JOAN E. GREVE. Rep. Swalwell posted a six-second video to Vine, the "mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos," that showed him repeatedly pushing the "Nay" button to oppose the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Swalwell chose to emphasize his opposition to this "unconstitutional attack on a woman's right to make her own health decisions" with a Vine video and the caption, "When House @GOP try to roll back health protections for women, this is how I vote. #WaronWomen." Allison Bormel, Swalwell's communications director, believes that Swalwell is the first congressman to ever Vine a vote, but, in his six months in office, he has performed other technological firsts, including becoming the first House member to Skype into a city council meeting. Swalwell hopes to continue modernizing Congress with his Mobile Congress initiative, a campaign promise that would aim to maintain "a full-time Congress" and "public schedule on a shared server that allows the public to see exactly what a member is up to on any given day." "We operate under rules that were created in the eighteenth century, and I think it's time that the Congress start to act more like regular Americans do," Swalwell said.


MCAULIFFE DROPS DEBATE OBJECTIONS," by The Washington Post's Laura Vozzella . "Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe agreed Thursday to debate Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli II in a forum that will allow the candidates to directly ask each other questions. McAuliffe's campaign dropped objections to the Virginia Bar Association's debate format, which allows some candidate-to-candidate questions. The VBA, which will host the debate July 20 at the Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va., has used that format for the past 10 years, said VBA communications coordinator Marilyn Shaw. McAuliffe's campaign had objected to the direct questions for reasons that McAuliffe himself declined to explain at an appearance in Richmond this week. The former Democratic National Committee chairman said that he was not personally involved in the 'silly' debate over debate rules, contending that his staff was handling it. McAuliffe agreed months ago to five debates. Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general, has challenged McAuliffe to 15 across the state."


DEMOCRATS ACCUSE KEN CUCCINELLI OF 'TURNING HIS BACK ON VIRGINIA'. The Democratic National Committee is out with a video this morning capitalizing on what they say has been Virgginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's "rough week." From the DNC: "Earlier this month a federal judge ruled with Virginia landowners against two out-of-state gas companies.The problem for Cuccinelli is that one of the gas companies is a major donor to his campaign to the tune of $100,000 and his office advised those companies on how to beat Virginia land owners out of royalties. Cuccinelli turned his back Virginia families and it's not going unnoticed." WATCH:


@mviser: Another in our Broken City series: How failure of the farm bill, long an easy compromise, shows dealmaking's demise.

@IsaacDovere: How immigration got saved - & a primer on how DC does get things done (answer: $$) by @cbudoffbrown & @mkraju …

?@Chris_Moody: Yahoo News compiled 9,486 times that WH spokesman Jay Carney wouldn't answer a reporter's question.

@politicalwire: Scott Brown: "I could beat Ed Markey, absolutely." …

HowardMortman: Seersucker Thursday in the Senate: A thing of the past? …

More ABC News