Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary

Tom Vilsack speaks on December 11, 2020, after being nominated to be Agriculture Secretary by US President-elect Joe Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday voted 92-7 to confirm former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

The big picture: Vilsack, a longtime supporter of President Biden, is returning to the department he led for eight years under the Obama administration. He served as governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.

Between the lines: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted against Vilsack's confirmation, becoming the first member of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote against a Biden nominee.

What to expect: During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack emphasized the need for the USDA and agriculture sector to help lead the way in mitigating the effects of climate change.

  • "USDA will lead the federal government in building and maintaining new markets in America that diversify rural economies; ... investing in renewable energy; creating a thriving biobased manufacturing sector ... and delivering science-based solutions to help mitigate and reduce climate change," he said during his prepared remarks.

Go deeper: What Vilsack as Biden's agriculture secretary means for energy and climate

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