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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.

Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas four Trump aides

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Jan 6. select committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot has subpoenaed four aides to former President Trump for testimony and documents.

Why it matters: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former communications official Dan Scavino, former Defense Department official Kash Patel, and former Trump advisor Steve Bannon were all in touch "with the White House on or in the days leading up to the January 6th insurrection," the committee said in a release.

U.S. friends in Latin America are turning to China

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The U.S. is losing Latin America to China without putting up a fight, Ecuador’s ambassador to Washington told Axios, laying bare her frustrations with early inattention from the Biden administration.

Why it matters: Ecuador isn't alone. China has deepened its engagement in the region, and it's now the top trading partner for many of the region's largest economies. That gives Beijing considerable leverage in a region historically dominated by the U.S., and makes Latin America a major frontier in the global competition for influence.