A hold that Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has had on the confirmation of Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Agriculture secretary, may be lifted, raising the possibility that Perdue could be confirmed before the Senate leaves on Friday, Politico reported Tuesday.
Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, had to allay the concerns of both Menendez and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., about his views on Cuba, Politico said. Trump has not been enthusiastic about liberalizing U.S.-Cuban relations, but farm groups want to gain more entrance into the Cuba market, particularly now because commodity prices are low.
A spokesperson for Mendendez told Politico, “I’m not going to go into specifics other than to say that Senator Menendez and Governor Perdue had a good conversation. His concerns were alleviated and he made clear he would not slow down the process on Mr. Perdue’s vote.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., also said he would try to convince the Senate leadership to hold a vote on Perdue before the two-week congressional break that begins Friday.
Currently, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is on the floor.
Meanwhile, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wrote Senate leaders on Monday to encourage the swift confirmation of Perdue.
The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. The House aggies cited the struggles facing farmers due to drops in net farm income, as well as issues with highly pathogenic avian influenza hitting commercial flocks in the southern parts of the country. The House members also pointed to the fires in the southern plains.
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture plays the lead role in responding to these and many other serious situations that are unfolding, and the Department absolutely must have someone at the helm," the House aggies wrote.
The House letter to senators: https://agriculture.house.gov/…
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