Bernie Sanders breaks with Democrats to vote against Cabinet candidate Joe Biden
Senator Bernie Sanders broke with the Biden administration on Tuesday to vote against the confirmatiat from former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
The Senate Tuesday voted 92-7 to confirm Vilsack, but Sander joined his Republican colleagues, including Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Rand Paul, R-Ky., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, in opposition .
Biden praised Vilsack for handling a vulnerable agricultural industry still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession when he announced his appointment in December. When Barack Obama chose Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture at the time to help implement the Recovery Act, it was upheld with unanimous approval. However, Vilsack’s recent return to the Department of Agriculture had been further postponed.
“The appointment of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture is the exact opposite of an administration focusing on ‘build back better’ needs,” wrote the climate group 350.org in January. “In order to ensure a liveable future, we need leadership that will fight for struggling family farmers, sustainable agriculture and national food security, not the giants of corporate agriculture.”
Many progressive and civil rights groups representing Farmers of Color have also chastised the choice of Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who enjoys much stronger progressive and popular support from stakeholders, but than Biden registered to head the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Lloyd Wright, former USDA Civil Rights Director, Told Politico, “Regarding race issues, [Vilsack] was one of the worst I have ever come into contact with. What we don’t want is Vilsack coming back. He added, “A change in the leadership of the department four years ago will not do us any more good than what we have now.” We didn’t win anything under Vilsack. “
According to a investigation report mentioned in Wright’s letter, from 2013 to 2015, just 7% of micro-loans went to black farmers, and only 0.2% of USDA’s $ 5.7 billion loans went to this. same group. Other racial disparities relating to land and capital for farmers of color also occurred under Vilsack’s watch.
“There were no consequences to these very well documented discriminatory actions by the USDA”, mentionned Rudy Arredondo, President of the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association. “To date, there have been no consequences. Some of the people who were there during that time are still in post.”
Opponents also challenged Vilsack’s confirmation due to his past sacking of Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development chief in Georgia. In 2010, Sherrod was wrongly fired by the Obama administration over a spoofed video posted by right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart that showed her ostensibly supporting racial discrimination. According to Politico, Vilsack’s appointment came just after a meeting held by Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., In which NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson had suggested that ‘It would be unwise for Biden to choose Vilsack without at least consulting Sherrod. It’s still unclear if Biden made the call.
During Vilsack’s confirmation hearing, the former governor stressed the need to develop rural agriculture, rethink trade policy and tackle climate change. Vilsack also expressed reservations about agricultural regulations backed by Democrats.
“The USDA will lead the federal government in building and sustaining new markets in America that diversify rural economies,” Vilsack mentionned in his prepared remarks, “invest in renewable energies; create a thriving bio-based manufacturing sector […] and providing science-based solutions to help mitigate and reduce climate change. “