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May 27, 2021

Daybreak Feb 24: Vilsack taking charge at USDAH

Tom Vilsack will be back in very familiar surroundings today after winning easy Senate confirmation as agriculture secretary. He is expected to be sworn in today.

The Senate voted 92-7 Tuesday to approve Vilsack. All of the no votes came from Republicans except for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

What’s next: The top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee told state ag commissioners on Tuesday he expects Vilsack to “move ahead with the release” of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments. The incoming administration paused the payments to farmers in order to review the program. There is additional coronavirus assistance that was funded by Congress that has yet to be implemented by USDA.

Vilsack has more work coming at him in the form of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that Democrats are pushing through Congress. The bill includes nearly $23 billion in new ag and nutrition spending.

Take note: Sanders told reporters that he voted against Vilsack because he thinks “we need somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate.” But Sanders went on to say that Vilsack will be “fine” as secretary. Read our report on the confirmation vote here.

Interior nominee strikes moderate stance Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland de-emphasized her past statements opposing fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, repeatedly describing the halt imposed by Biden as a “pause” in order to review the department’s leasing program.Read more