WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s Cupboard is beginning to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday.
Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer says he intends to wrap up the remaining nomination votes shortly.
“At a time of acute nationwide problem, we’d like certified leaders atop our federal businesses — and quick,” he stated Tuesday on the Senate ground. “And that’s what we intend to do.”
Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that every one Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly certified for his or her positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to think about in the course of the earlier administration.”
The Senate voted 78-20 to approve profession diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, a Cupboard-level place. A 35-year international service veteran who resigned in the course of the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield should deal with a number of worldwide relationships that had been altered by Trump’s erratic and isolationist model.
“This affirmation sends a message that the USA is again and that our international service is again,” stated Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a Home Overseas Affairs subcommittee on Africa, world well being and world human rights. “We as a rustic and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the USA ambassador to the United Nations.”
Throughout affirmation hearings, Thomas-Greenfield confronted some criticism from Senate Republicans who labeled her tender on China, citing a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese language-funded Confucius Institute during which she praised China’s large infrastructure and affect program in Africa.
She stated the speech had been a mistake and was not supposed to be an endorsement of Chinese language authorities insurance policies. She stated of China, “They’re a menace to their neighbors, and they’re a menace throughout the globe.”
The Senate voted 92-7 to substantiate Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary.
The previous Iowa governor spent eight years main the identical division underneath former President Barack Obama.
In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, closely endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such because the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is one among our first and greatest methods to get some wins on this local weather space.”
Vilsack obtained minimal pushback or criticism throughout affirmation hearings. One of many few “no” votes got here from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an unbiased who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders stated he would have preferred “anyone just a little bit extra vigorous when it comes to defending household farms and taking over company agriculture.”
Vilsack additionally closely backed the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program — generally referred to as meals stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in serving to the nation’s most susceptible households survive and recuperate from the coronavirus pandemic. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge tons of of 1000’s of individuals from the SNAP-recipient lists.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Well being and Human Companies nominee Xavier Becerra advised senators that “robust federal management” was wanted to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He additionally pledged to work to develop medical insurance protection, curb prescription drug prices and scale back racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.
At present California’s lawyer normal, Becerra appeared Tuesday earlier than the Senate Well being, Training, Labor and Pensions Committee. He has a second affirmation listening to Wednesday earlier than the Finance Committee, which is able to vote on sending his nomination to the Senate ground.
On Tuesday, he pledged to work to develop the Obama-era Inexpensive Care Act, although he is beforehand supported a government-run system like “Medicare for All.”
Though Democrats have backed Becerra, Republican opposition has grown louder.
“I am not offered but,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the rating Republican on the well being committee, stated, addressing Becerra. “I’m undecided that you’ve got the required expertise or abilities to do that job at this second.”
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has referred to as Becerra “famously partisan.” As California lawyer normal, Becerra filed 124 lawsuits challenged Trump administration actions.
Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to steer the Inside Division, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some referred to as her “radical” concepts that embody opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The New Mexico congresswoman stated she was decided to “strike the appropriate steadiness” between conserving public lands and vitality improvement. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, can be the primary Native American to steer a Cupboard company.
Haaland’s listening to centered on her and Biden’s intentions concerning the way forward for fossil fuels. Her listening to earlier than the Senate Vitality and Pure Sources Committee was adjourned after practically 2 1/2 hours and can resume Wednesday.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., displayed a big chart that includes a quote from Haaland final November, earlier than she was chosen as Biden’s nominee. She stated then: “If I had my method, it’d be nice to cease all gasoline and oil leasing on federal and public lands.”
Manchin, the panel’s chair and a Democrat from coal-dependent West Virginia, has stated he’s undecided on Haaland’s nomination.
In response to questions from Manchin and others, Haaland stated the U.S. will proceed to depend on fossil fuels corresponding to oil and pure gasoline even because it strikes towards Biden’s objective of internet zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to wash vitality “will not be going to occur in a single day,” she stated.
Related Press writers Matthew Lee, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.