Key officials for agriculture advance, not yet confirmed

February 18, 2021

Three officials who will fill posts critical to U.S. agriculture appear virtually certain to be confirmed but have not been yet, in part because of the just-concluded impeachment trial in the senate.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will again fill that role once confirmed by the full senate. The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved his nomination on February 2, and the full senate is scheduled to consider it on February 23. North Carolina Secretary of Environmental Quality Michael Regan got a bipartisan 14-6 majority on February 9 in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He is nominated to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

House Ways and Means Committee trade counsel Katherine Tai, nominated as U.S. Trade Representative, has the farthest to go of any of the three nominees. Her confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee has not been scheduled but is expected in March. She is highly popular and appears to face no obstacles to confirmation. One reason her hearing has not been scheduled is probably that the same committee previously handled the nomination of Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury. Yellen has now been confirmed.

Senate committees will have multiple nominations to consider this spring. Deputy U.S. Trade Representatives require Senate confirmation, as do Under Secretaries of Agriculture. The only pending nominee is Dr. Jewel Bronaugh to be Deputy Agriculture Secretary.