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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at a 2018 forum. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Employees at USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) intend to move from Washington, D.C. to an unspecified area in the Kansas City region by the end of 2019, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: "Employees, congressional Democrats and a bipartisan coalition of former USDA leaders" have warned that the move "would devastate the two agencies," per the Post. ERS and NIFA have both recently unionized and some "union officials have promised to fight the move."

Details: ERS jobs remaining in D.C. mostly belong to "administrative staff, analysts who perform market outlook estimates and those who collect data," according to internal documents reviewed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their analysis showed that "[e]conomists and other ERS researchers who make conclusions from that data are likely to be reassigned to Kansas City" — but the USDA disputes that.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: This move is seen by some as having the effect of reducing the influence of USDA's scientists and statisticians, who will be far away from D.C. power brokers.

The bottom line: The USDA expects to save around $300 million over 15 years after relocating.

Go deeper: USDA halts deadly experiments on kittens for food safety research

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Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

McConnell proposes February impeachment trial

Sen. Mitch McConnell Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is proposing that the impeachment trial of former President Trump begin in mid-February to allow for due process.

Why it matters: The impeachment trial is likely to grind other Senate business to a halt, including the confirmation process for President Biden's Cabinet nominees.