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Rep. Marcia Fudge. Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Allies of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) think Joe Biden is unlikely to pick her for Agriculture secretary, risking a strain with the Congressional Black Caucus as it seeks to turn the agency from farmer-focused to consumer-focused.

The big picture: Backed by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the CBC signaled that nominating Fudge — who sits on the Agriculture Committee — was a key priority for its members. A report that Tom Vilsack, a white man who already was Agriculture secretary for eight years, is the top choice for the job only highlights the disagreement.

The CBC argues the agency needs to be refocused to better serve minority communities.

  • "80% of the Agriculture Department’s work has nothing to do with farming," Clyburn told Fox News host Juan Williams early this month. “It is food stamps, nutrition, building schools in rural areas, making sure people have broadband.”
  • Fudge, a former prosecutor and mayor, has focused on education, child nutrition, food stamps and other community-support programs during her 12 years in the House.

Why it matters: While the president-elect is striving for racial and gender diversity in his Cabinet, it’s becoming clearer he will have a difficult time keeping all groups happy.

  • He appeased some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus by picking Xavier Becerra to run Health and Human Services, but there's a push by others to give a Latina a high-profile job.

Those problems will be compounded, lawmakers say, if Biden selects white candidates for positions where minorities were being either promoted or considered.

  • After leaving Agriculture, Vilsack earned almost $1 million his first full year leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council, a nonprofit representing dairy producers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
  • The Biden transition team declined to comment.

Go deeper

Dec 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden taps Miguel Cardona to lead Education Department

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Miguel Cardona, education commissioner in Connecticut, has accepted President-elect Joe Biden's offer to serve as secretary of the Department of Education, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Cardona will be responsible for leading a reopening of the country's schools, which Biden has pledged to do within his first 100 days as president if Congress helps with financial support.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse under scrutiny for elite club affiliations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in February. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Image

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is a member of an exclusive Rhode Island sailing club that lacks diversity.

Why it matters: Whitehouse has repeatedly spoken out against systemic racism and come under scrutiny this week for his family's affiliation with elite clubs. This is the second such club accused of lacking diversity that the senator has been linked to in recent days

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.