WASHINGTON, April 5, 2017 – The Senate will vote April 24 on the confirmation of Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary after lawmakers return from their upcoming two-week Easter recess.
Senate leaders scheduled the vote after Democrats blocked action on the former Georgia governor’s nomination this week, preventing him from starting work at USDA before the recess.
“Democrats seem to want to drag out everything and run all the time off the clock. We just ran out of time,” Senate GOP Whip John Cornyn of Texas said of the Perdue nomination.
A Democratic Senate aide said in an email Wednesday that there "real concerns with Governor Perdue’s record that require actual debate on the Senate floor. The administration took a while to name an Agriculture Secretary but now that he has cleared committee, the full Senate will take a close look at him. We are, however, in the middle of the very important consideration of the Gorsuch nomination.”
Delaying the Perdue vote also benefitted Democrats because it eats up legislative days that Republicans could use to bring up resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to roll back additional regulations implemented by the outgoing Obama administration.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., had initially objected to a vote on Perdue because of the nominee’s views on policy toward Cuba, but was reassured after a personal call from Perdue Tuesday afternoon and dropped the hold, Roberts said. During Perdue’s confirmation hearing, he said he would support easing financial restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculutre Committee, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, issued a statement saying that she strongly supports Perdue. "While I am disappointed that the full Senate did not vote to confirm Governor Perdue this week, I am pleased that we will be moving his confirmation forward on the Monday we return into session. I look forward to confirming Governor Perdue as quickly as possible," she said.