May 21, 2024

Biden expects Tom Vilsack to be named agriculture minister later this week

A source tells CNN that the announcement may come later this week.

Filsack served as Agriculture Secretary throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. It was confirmed unanimously by the US Senate in January 2009, and held the position until his resignation in 2017 shortly before President Donald Trump took office.

If Filsack is finally selected, it will be the latest example of how President-elect Joe Biden has filled his cabinet and surrounded himself with old advisers, loyal supporters, or experts in their respective fields with whom they are quite comfortable.

A source familiar with the situation told CNN that Biden gravitated toward Vilsack in the first place because he “felt it was important to bring in someone with experience” to address the range of issues the Department of Agriculture was dealing with. This includes providing relief to farmers who suffered during the trade war and Americans who dealt with hunger during the coronavirus crisis.

The source added that Vilsack was seen as a sure choice, noting that it was confirmed unanimously in 2009.

Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, and his wife Kristi Biden supported caucuses in Iowa and campaigned hard for him. Biden came in fourth, which he described at the time as a “hard hit”, but repeatedly expressed his gratitude to Vilsacks for their support.

Filsack has also expressed interest in other positions, say people familiar with the matter, including the United States Trade Representative. He is among many of Biden’s big supporters still vying for key positions, including former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and Pete Buttigieg, a major contender whose decision to leave the race helped boost support around Biden in March.

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A transitional official declined to comment.

In 1998, Velsack became Iowa’s first Democratic elected governor in more than 30 years. He served as governor from 1999 to 2007. During his term as governor, he served for a year as president of the Association of Democratic Governors.

In 2006, Vilsack submitted a statement to run for the 2008 presidential race, but withdrew from the race in February 2007. In the end, he endorsed Hillary Clinton as president and became co-chair of her national campaign.

After stepping down as Agriculture Secretary, Vilsack became Chairman and CEO of the American Dairy Export Council. Vilsack also won a $ 150K Powerball prize in the Iowa Lottery, and took home his prize in February this year.

With Biden ready to choose Ohio Vice President Marcia Fudge To lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the position of Minister of Agriculture is among the ministerial positions yet to be named. Fudge has publicly expressed a desire to serve in the USDA and has had several notable reinforcements for the position, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, but on Tuesday indicated that she was pleased with the reports that were being exploited at HUD.

Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Hitkamp is also seen as a contender for the USDA.

A senior Democratic official said that while the cabinet was being formed to be ethnically diverse, gender diversity was something that was starting to cause concern among some Democrats, with many men appointed to key positions in a swift order.

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This story has been updated with additional information about Vilsack.

CNN’s Dan Merika and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.