Stalled in Congress is a complex piece of legislation often called by the simple, somewhat-misleading name the "Farm Bill," which in fact deals with food stamps, crop insurance, conservation, commodity programs and an array of other topics.
The Associated Press describes the turn of events that left farm-state lawmakers heading home empty-handed as such:
Farm-state members of Congress have campaigned for decades on the back of farm bills delivering election-season subsidies and other goodies to rural voters.
Not this year. The bill is stalled, primarily because House GOP leaders don't want a noisy fight over food stamps this close to the election. That poses a particular problem for some Republicans in tight races for the Senate or the House who will go home empty-handed when Congress adjourns this week.
Democrats are gloating.
Among the Democratic candidates seizing the moment is Steve Wilkins, running for U.S. House from North Carolina's 2nd District, which runs through Raleigh and stretches around the Triangle.
The seat is currently occupied by Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican who narrowly won in 2010 and is seeking re-election.
Wilkins said on Twitter that Ellmers "let GOP leadership pressure her out of acting to pass" the bill. He expanded on the comment in an interview and pointed to the withdrawal of her support for a procedure that may have allowed a House vote.
"In our district, many sectors of agriculture are significantly represented," Wilkins said. "You have to work together, you have to work with leadership, but job the first of all is to represent your constituents. ... Instead she put her interests first."
Ellmers' spokesman Tom Doheny said that interptration is not accurate. He said the congresswoman is a staunch supporter of the bill and switched her support to another procedure that could allow a vote.
"She's completely in support of the Farm Bill," Doheny said. "After learning more information about the bill, she realized there are better ways to get it to the floor."
Doheny said Ellmers remains confident a deal will be reached before the end of the year, even though lawmakers have recessed until after the election in November.
Read more at NPR about the Farm Bill and what happens after the current law expires Sept. 30.