Northey’s confirmation vote still on hold

Bill Northey

At last report, the Senate vote to confirm Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey to an undersecretary post in the USDA was still on hold.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has placed a hold on the vote in retaliation against a recent effort by several Cornbelt senators to prevent changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Cruz was reportedly upset by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s threat to withhold votes on EPA nominees unless EPA administrator Scott Pruitt backed off on proposed changes to the RFS.

Cruz and eight other senators from states that have oil refineries are also asking for a meeting with President Trump to discuss an overhaul of the RFS. They charge the RFS is hurting jobs in their states.

In a statement provided to Brownfield, Grassley said, “There are mechanisms in the Senate that are aimed at encouraging dialogue and resolving different points of view. I’d be happy to discuss Secretary Northey’s outstanding qualifications to be a top USDA official with any of my colleagues. Bill Northey’s abilities and record earned him a unanimous, bipartisan vote from the Senate Agriculture Committee. At this point, I’m continuing my work to get him on the job at USDA for the benefit of farmers across the country. We need him to do for American agriculture what he did in Iowa and in the Midwest with his leadership.”

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, who was also part of the pushback against EPA on the RFS, provided the following statement to Brownfield: “Bill Northey is eminently qualified and received full, bipartisan support coming out of committee. This should have nothing to do with Bill Northey.”

Senator Cruz’s office has not responded to Brownfield’s request for comment.

The Senate on Thursday did approve another USDA nominee, Nebraska ag director Greg Ibach, to be undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs in USDA.

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