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Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports

Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE will reportedly tap Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE to reprise his former role as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), choosing to nominate a key ally to another Cabinet post.

Several outlets reported Vilsack’s nomination, which came shortly after it was reported that Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeFudge violated the Hatch Act, watchdog finds Carter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority HHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities MORE (D-Ohio) would be nominated to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fudge and her allies had been angling for her to be Agriculture secretary. Former Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (D-N.D.) was also reportedly in contention for the job.

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People close to the Biden transition told The Associated Press that Vilsack is being nominated to lead the USDA again because of his readiness to helm the department and the dire hunger crisis facing the nation, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Vilsack, a former two-term governor of Iowa, served atop the USDA for all eight years of the Obama administration. He was a prominent supporter of Biden during the Democratic presidential primary race and notably stuck by the former vice president after his abysmal fourth-place showing in the crucial Iowa caucuses.

Beyond responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the USDA will also likely focus on bolstering the economy and health infrastructure in rural areas as well as improving rural broadband.

"With a heightened hunger crisis, farmers reeling, and rural communities struggling to weather the pain and economic fallout of the pandemic, the President-Elect is looking for someone with experience and bold thinking to deliver immediate relief for families all across the country. No one fits that description better than Tom Vilsack since he knows the department better than anyone," said a source familiar with the president-elect's thinking.

The Biden transition declined to respond to a request for comment from The Hill. Axios was the first to report on Vilsack’s upcoming nomination.