Senate Confirms 2 Biden Nominees

Tom Vilsack is returning to Department of Agriculture
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2021 6:27 PM CST
Senate Confirms 2 Biden Nominees
In this Dec. 11, 2020 photo, Tom Vilsack speaks during an event at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

President Biden's Cabinet is starting to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday. The Senate voted 78-20 to approve career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador, a Cabinet-level position. A 35-year foreign service veteran who resigned during the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield will be the third African American, and the second African American woman, to hold the job, the AP reports. Her confirmation was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations, who had lamented the Trump administration's unilateral approach to international affairs. During confirmation hearings, Thomas-Greenfield faced some criticism from Senate Republicans who labeled her soft on China.

The Senate voted 92-7 to confirm Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department under Barack Obama. In his testimony, Vilsack heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels. One of the few "no" votes came from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said he would have liked "somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he intends to wrap up the remaining nomination votes quickly, although one of Biden's nominees, Neera Tanden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in trouble in the evenly divided Senate.

(Read more Biden administration stories.)

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