First Dem senator backs Trump’s Agriculture pick

First Dem senator backs Trump’s Agriculture pick

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.) on Monday endorsed President Trump’s nominee for Agriculture secretary, making her the first Democratic senator to do so.

“After meeting with [former] Gov. Sonny Perdue [R-Ga.] today, I look forward to confirming him to this important post and working with him to get results for North Dakota farmers and ranchers,” she said in a statement.

“Meeting with nominees one-on-one helps me lay out North Dakota’s priorities to potential Cabinet heads,” added Heitkamp, who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. "Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of North Dakota’s economy, which is why I take this nomination so seriously.”

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Heitkamp, who backed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump 'lynching' firestorm is sign of things to come Hillary Clinton has said she'd consider 2020 race if she thought she could win: report Nielsen on leaving Trump administration: 'Saying no and refusing to do it myself was not going to be enough' MORE over Trump, added that she had discussed trade with Cuba during her 45-minute meeting with Perdue, who was nominated for the role on Jan. 19. 

“At today’s meeting, I highlighted the bill I just introduced to expand agricultural exports to Cuba and the importance of trade for farmers, and reinforced the need for a strong Farm Bill in 2018,” she said.

“Financing restrictions are the top barrier facing North Dakota farmers who want to sell their crops to Cuba, and my bipartisan bill would do away with that obstacle – supporting North Dakota farmers and American jobs in our state that depend on agriculture.”

The Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Perdue, who served as Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction from 2003 to 2011.

Trump formally nominated Perdue last month, after the former veterinarian served on his agriculture advisory committee during the 2016 presidential race.

“Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture,” Trump said in a Jan. 19 statement.

“From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans."