By Jenny Hopkinson (Politico) –
President Donald Trump finally has a point person for rural issues after the Senate approved Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture by a vote of 87-11 Monday evening.
The former two-term GOP governor of Georgia was met with little opposition from lawmakers during his delay-filled confirmation process, but the 11 votes cast against him — 10 by Democrats and one from an independent — mark the first time since the Reagan administration that a USDA chief has not been unanimously approved. The late Richard Lyng had a pair of votes cast against his nomination in 1986.
More senators voted “no” than expected. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) was a nay — she stood alone in opposing Perdue when he cleared the Agriculture Committee last month. This time around, Gillibrand was joined in opposition by Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Democrats Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). They defended their votes by citing concerns that ranged from Perdue’s approach to food stamps to trade with Cuba to GMO labeling and a perceived coziness with agribusiness.