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Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel

Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel
© Keren Carrion

House Democrats on Thursday voted to elect Rep. David ScottDavid Albert ScottCivil rights lawyer announces bid for Texas attorney general Lawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Amazon manager sues company over racial discrimination, harassment allegations MORE (D-Ga.) to be the next Agriculture Committee chairman, making him the first Black lawmaker in the chamber’s history to hold the position. 

Scott will take over in January from Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark Peterson Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Six ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 MORE (D-Minn.), who chaired the committee for six of his nearly 30 years in Congress but lost reelection last month in a district long targeted by the GOP.

Scott easily prevailed over Rep. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms House GOP campaign arm adds to target list MORE (D-Calif.), his only rival for the Agriculture post, by a 144-83 vote, according to a Democratic aide.

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The House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which determines members’ committee assignments, voted on Tuesday to recommend Scott to hold the Agriculture gavel. The full House Democratic Caucus voted Thursday to ratify the Steering panel’s recommendation.

Scott had an edge for the chairman role as the most senior Democrat on the Agriculture Committee after Peterson. Scott also currently chairs an Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit.

In a letter to colleagues shortly after Peterson’s loss, Scott said he would use the post “with a principled focus on addressing inequities in agriculture and advancing racial progress for all.”

Picking Scott, who represents parts of the Atlanta metropolitan area, reflects a shift in the tradition of selecting a chair from a rural area and shows the growing importance the party places on the committee’s work dealing with food stamps and the school lunch program.

“While millions of Americans are one financial setback — a cut in their hours or an emergency room visit — away from food insecurity it is the duty of Congress to set forth programs that provide a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens,” he wrote in November.

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House Democrats also voted Thursday to select Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) as the next Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman after a disappointing showing in this year’s elections where they had originally expected to gain seats only to fail to unseat a single GOP incumbent. Maloney will oversee the party's efforts to maintain the House majority in 2022.

Democrats also moved to elect Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (D-Conn.) as the next chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksColombia's protests are threat, test for US Pressure increases for US to send vaccines to Latin America Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (D-N.Y.) to hold the House Foreign Affairs Committee gavel.

Like Scott, Meeks will be the first Black lawmaker to chair his committee. 

The current Appropriations Committee chairwoman, Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue Lowey Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs Committee chairs continue their lawmaking decline MORE (D-N.Y.), is retiring, while House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLawmakers on hot mic joke 'aisle hog' Engel absent from Biden address: 'He'd wait all day' Bowman to deliver progressive response to Biden's speech to Congress Liberal advocacy group stirs debate, discomfort with primary challenges MORE (D-N.Y.) lost his primary over the summer.