The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday approved the long-delayed nomination of veteran civil rights lawyer Margo Schlanger to lead the Agriculture Department’s civil rights office, but GOP opposition is likely to slow down the full Senate's consideration of her.

The committee approved the nomination on a voice vote, with several Republicans, including the panel’s ranking member, John Boozman of Arkansas, voting no. 

Schlanger, who was originally nominated by President Joe Biden in September 2021 and then re-nominated at the beginning of the new Congress in January, doesn’t “have any agriculture experience and really has seemed to be pretty partisan,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse, explaining his opposition. 

Boozman said other senators are likely to place multiple holds on her nomination and that the Democratic majority will likely have to use a lengthy cloture process to bring her name to a vote. "She won't go by unanimous consent," he said.

Schlanger, who teaches at the University of Michigan, founded and directs the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, a national storehouse of information about large-scale civil rights cases.

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The Yale University Law School graduate, who once clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was the presidentially appointed civil rights officer for the Department of Homeland Security in 2010 and 2011. She also has served as a trial attorney and senior trial attorney in the Justice Department's civil rights division. 

“I strongly support this nominee,” Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in brief remarks ahead of the committee vote, which took place off the Senate chamber. 

The committee action follows release this week of a set of interim recommendations by USDA's Equity Commission, which was formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to address longstanding accusations of discrimination in the department's programs.

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