Although they defied President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, five Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee voted on Wednesday against impeaching Trump for inciting the deadly mob attack on the Capitol last week. They said that impeachment was divisive and hasty, while the new Agriculture chairman, Georgia Democrat David Scott, said speedy action was needed.
While the top Democrats in Congress threatened to impeach President Trump for the second time, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Thursday that he was not part of any discussions among cabinet members to sideline Trump by declaring him unfit to do his job. "Nor do I expect to have any" part in such talk, said Perdue during a trip to Georgia.
The invasion of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob was an assault on U.S. democracy, said farm state lawmakers on Wednesday. Rioters interrupted the certification of Joe Biden's election as president over President Trump, who told protesters that he would never concede defeat. Biden and former president George W. Bush called the invasion an insurrection.
Robert Bonnie, an Obama appointee at the USDA and now the head of an initiative to identify agriculture's role in mitigating climate change, will lead a review of the Agriculture Department to prepare the way for the incoming administration, said the Biden transition office. Meanwhile, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said on Wednesday that she would be honored to serve as Biden's agriculture secretary. If chosen, she would be the first Black woman to hold the cabinet post. (No paywall)
Nine-term Georgia Rep. David Scott asked House Democrats to name him Agriculture Committee chairman with a call on Thursday for racial justice and economic equality in agriculture, rural economic development, and a safety net for hungry Americans. He would be the first Black and the first Georgian to chair the committee.
Southerners could lead both of the Agriculture committees in Congress as a result of Tuesday's general election, which trimmed the majorities Republicans hold in the Senate and Democrats hold in the House. Rep. David Scott of Georgia was first in seniority to succeed chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota on the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas was in line to chair the Senate panel.
Rural America was key to Donald Trump's election in 2016 and rural voters backed him again this year, although by how much is unclear. While one exit poll reported that 54 percent of small city or rural residents voted for Trump, the Daily Yonder said the president's performance in Ohio, a battleground state, "looks a lot like 2016," when he rolled up huge margins in rural counties.
Two and possibly three of the "four corners" of farm policy, the Capitol Hill nickname for the chairmen and the minority leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, will be occupied by new faces when Congress convenes in January. Two of the seats could go to Arkansans: Sen. John Boozman appears certain to succeed Pat Roberts as the top Republican on the Senate committee and Rep. Rick Crawford is vying to be the ranking Republican on House Agriculture.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted food supplies and heightened food insecurity, should be the impetus for unified oversight of the food system, now splintered among dozens of regulatory agencies, said an "urgent call" for action from groups at the Harvard and Vermont law schools on Thursday.