Senate Votes on USDA Nominees Off Until After Elections

USDA nominees for top trade and food safety posts will now have to wait until after the midterm elections in November for Senate confirmation votes.

The Senate wrapped up work Thursday to head home for campaigns without confirming Biden USDA undersecretary nominees Alexis Taylor for trade and Jose Emilio Esteban for food safety. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; “Now, Mr. President, for the information of all senators, the next roll call vote will be on November 14th at 5:30 pm.”

That’s not good news for farm interests and Ag senators like Iowa’s Joni Ernst. Ernst said; “Our farmers and our trade partners have waited over 20 months for the Biden Administration to prioritize trade challenges and to seek these new opportunities.”

Also awaiting confirmation is Biden’s pick for USTR Chief Ag Negotiator, Doug McKalip, approved 27-0 by the Senate Finance Committee. That while Vince Logan was confirmed to the Farm Credit Administration board.

Top Senate Ag Republican John Boozman reflected the split sentiment of many farm state-lawmakers. Boozman; “I have confidence that Miss Taylor and Mr. McKalip, the nominee to serve as the Chief Agriculture Negotiator for the Office of the United States Trade Rep, have the skills and abilities to help our producers, but I do question if they’ll be receiving the support they need from the White House.”

GOP and Democratic lawmakers complain the president does not want to do market-opening trade deals. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers earlier that the administration is trying to turn the page on free trade agreements that are politically difficult to pass.

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