WASHINGTON – Former Gov. Sonny Perdue is approaching the end zone in his months-long bid to become the Trump administration’s top agriculture official.
The Senate Agriculture Committee voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to advance the Republican’s nomination to be secretary of agriculture to the full Senate for its consideration.
In a meeting just steps off the Senate floor that lasted for less than 90 seconds, committee members registered their support for Perdue via informal voice votes. The only vote against him came from New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who said Perdue increased paperwork and work requirements for food stamp recipients when he was Georgia's governor.
“The result of his work was a lot less people got access to the food they needed," Gillibrand told reporters. “Food stamps are a really important issue in my state. We have a lot of families that are struggling to feed their children, and it’s one of my highest priorities being on the ag committee.”
“Awwww no I thought we had a deal! It could have been unanimous!" Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., joked after Gillibrand registered her opposition.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a member of the committee, was in attendance but declined to vote since he is the governor's first cousin.
The panel’s favorable decision came exactly a week after Perdue’s friendly confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.
It’s unclear when exactly the Senate will debate and vote on Perdue’s nomination.
The chamber is in session for only one more week before it leaves for its two-week spring recess, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he’d like to use much of the interim time debating Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and legislation nullifying Obama-era regulations. It’s very possible that Perdue does not get confirmed until after the Senate returns the week of April 24th.
On the other hand, since Perdue’s nomination is considered to be relatively non-controversial, party leaders could strike an agreement to vote on his nomination quickly and with little debate on the Senate floor.