Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the second time.

The Senate voted 92-7 to confirm Vilsack. He is the 32nd Agriculture secretary and the ninth member of President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE’s Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. Vilsack previously served for eight years as head of USDA under former President Obama.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE (I-Vt.), voted against Vilsack’s nomination, marking the first senator who caucuses with the Democrats to vote against a Biden Cabinet pick. 


Vilsack's nomination received pushback last month from progressives who felt he was too aligned with major agricultural corporations when he was Obama’s head of the USDA. Vilsack is now president of the dairy lobby group, the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

GOP Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken Rand Paul: 'Hatred for Trump' blocking research into ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment MORE (Ky.), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (Mo.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod MORE (Fla.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Republican politicians: Let OSHA do its job O'Rourke prepping run for governor in Texas: report MORE (Texas), and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization More Republicans call on Biden to designate Taliban as terrorist group Overnight Energy: Judge blocks permits for Alaska oil project MORE (Alaska) also voted against his nomination Tuesday.

Before serving in the Obama administration, Vilsack, 70, had served as governor of Iowa. He received bipartisan praise from the Senate Agriculture Committee and his nomination was unanimously advanced by the panel. 

Biden passed up Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBiden administration launches new national initiative to fight homelessness Sanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing MORE (D-Ohio) for the role, who was backed by a number of progressive groups and is a vocal force for protecting food banks and food insecurity programs. One climate group,, called Vilsack’s selection a “stark contrast” with the wide backing for Fudge.

Fudge is Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Vilsack fielded questions on trade during his confirmation hearing and said he will work to stabilize and secure trade policy in the aftermath of the Trump administration.  

He is also set to take over the agency during the coronavirus pandemic, which has put the spotlight on food insecurity. He said at his hearing he would bolster the capacity at food banks and pantries to keep up with the recent demand.

Vilsack said he is also focused on fighting climate change and partnering with Congress on efforts toward zero emission agriculture.

The Senate confirmed Linda Thomas-GreenfieldLinda Thomas-GreenfieldBiden falters in pledge to strengthen US alliances Republicans press Biden administration to maintain sanctions against Taliban The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Biden travels west as Washington troubles mount MORE to represent the United States at the United Nations as ambassador earlier on Tuesday.

Other confirmed Cabinet members include Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughVeteran suicides dropped to lowest level in 12 years Veterans grapple with new Afghanistan: 'Was my service worth it?' VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate MORE, Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership LGBT film festival to premiere documentary about Pete Buttigieg MORE, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHundreds of Haitians return to Mexico after expulsions from Texas begin A better way to reduce the backlog of asylum applications Biden administration prioritizing single adult Haitians, some families for deportation: report MORE, Director of National Intelligence Avril HainesAvril HainesCIA chief team member reported Havana syndrome symptoms during trip to India: report Republican requesting data, notes, emails in intelligence report on COVID-19 origins After messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain MORE, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Rocky US alliances as Biden heads to UN assembly Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol Capitol Police swear in state, local law enforcement ahead of 'Justice for J6' rally MORE, Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — White House plans extreme heat workplace standard McConnell signals Senate GOP will oppose combined debt ceiling-funding bill Democrats aim to suspend debt limit with bill to avoid government shutdown MORE and Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenFive things to watch as Biden heads to the UN Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll MORE.

Updated at 3:17 p.m.