What’s Going On With Trump’s Agriculture Secretary?

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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As the incoming cabinet slowly takes shape, agriculture experts wonder why the Senate hasn’t scheduled a hearing for former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, the nominee for agriculture secretary.

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, which must first vet the agriculture secretary, revealed Thursday why he hasn’t scheduled a hearing yet: President Donald Trump’s White House hasn’t sent in the necessary paperwork on Perdue.

“Sonny Perdue is just waiting,” Roberts said during a discussion about the next Farm Bill in Kansas Thursday, according agriculture trade publication The Hagstrom Report. The Senate would quickly hold a hearing and vote to confirm Perdue if they could schedule a meeting, Roberts said.

The lack of paperwork could make Perdue nervous. Trump announced he would nominate Perdue more than a month ago on Jan. 18, but the White House has been sluggish on the process.

Perdue has been visiting Senate offices for weeks to gain support for his nomination, but the former governor is reportedly growing nervous about the confirmation process, according to Politico. “We’re reaching a point where nominees like Perdue are concerned,” an unnamed Republican official close to the nomination proceedings told Politico earlier this week.

Other nominees are also concerned about their prospects, particularly after Trump’s first labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder withdrew from the process. “Potential ambassadors and judges are wondering ‘how are you going to handle my confirmation?’ Very few people at that level don’t have skeletons in their closet, so you [need to] get confirmations done lickety-split,” the source told Politico.

The White House is looking at how Perdue will handle his business interests. After his time as governor, Perdue was managing member of AGRowStar, a grain shipping and storage company. He also co-founded Perdue Partners, a group that helps agriculture companies export food products overseas, with his cousin, now Georgia Sen. David Perdue.

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