Cabinet: Complete – High Plains Journal

Well, it’s May and President Donald Trump finally has a full Cabinet.

Recently, Robert Lighthizer, the new U.S. trade representative, was sworn in at the White House by Vice President Mike Pence.

It sure has taken a long time to get here, but the work is not done yet. Now, Washington, specifically the Senate, must move on to approving President Trump’s subcabinet nominees.

More than a dozen subcabinet positions within the U.S. Department of Agriculture must be approved by the Senate. This means that the Senate Agriculture Committee will need to hold hearings for each nominee.

News stories swirling around Washington report the deputy agriculture secretary and the undersecretary for research, education and economics are soon to be nominated.

Washington-based news outlet Politico reports American Soybean Association President and CEO Stephen Censky will soon be nominated as deputy agriculture secretary. Heck, that may have already happened by the time you’re reading this.

Bill Northey, the Iowa agriculture secretary, has been rumored to be tapped as the next undersecretary for farm production and conservation, which is a brand new capacity that USDA announced recently.

Ted McKinney, Indiana agriculture director (ahem, also from Vice President Pence’s home state), and formerly rumored to be agriculture secretary, is reported to be nominated as the undersecretary for trade.

What’s that, you ask?

Great question. It is a long overdue—by three years—position that Congress, in the current farm bill, directed the Agriculture Department to create. The Obama administration’s USDA never placed any priority on getting it done.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the trade undersecretary announcement recently, along with other reorganizational changes within the agency, much to the delight of agriculture groups.

Another possible pick for a top USDA position is Iowan Sam Clovis. You may remember that name from the Trump campaign. Clovis served as an advisor to then-candidate Trump and now is the liaison between USDA and the White House. He is set to be nominated as the undersecretary for research, education and economics.

This rumor has created quite the stir here in Washington, since Clovis’ background is in economics, not science.

It’s worth noting these gentlemen are from the Midwest, which balances out concerns from some that Perdue, a Georgian, may favor the priorities of Southern farmers over Midwestern farmers.

It’s also worth noting things could always be worse. These guys know and understand agriculture.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also needs to be completed. During the last Congress, the Senate Agriculture Committee vetted and approved two CFTC commissioners, but they never made it for a vote before the full Senate.

Just in the week of this writing, the White House nominated Brian Quintenz, who was one of the two commissioners nominated by President Barack Obama.

The next time you think that lawmakers in Washington are just twiddling their thumbs, remember they’ve got a lot of work to do to get a new administration’s nominees vetted and confirmed.

The work never ends in this town.

Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.


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