Edward Schafer, former North Dakota governor, was confirmed on Monday by the U.S. Senate to serve as agriculture secretary.
According to the Associated Press (AP), there were no objections, even though Congress and the Bush administration have differing views over a pending five-year farm bill.
Several hours after his confirmation — by unanimous consent — Schafer attended President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address with other members of the cabinet.
AP reports that during a congenial confirmation hearing in the Senate Agriculture Committee last week, several members of the panel encouraged him to work with Congress to smooth stalled talks on the $286 billion farm bill passed by both the House and Senate last year.
At issue are tax provisions added to both versions of the bill that are intended to raise additional money for farm programs, AP notes. The Bush administration says the bills use funding gimmicks and tax increases to supplement a farm economy that is already strong, and acting Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner has shown little willingness to negotiate on that point. Bush has threatened to veto both bills.
In a statement, Bush said Schafer "distinguished himself as an executive with a proven record of results."
"He will work with the Congress to pass a responsible farm bill that will provide a safety net for farmers and protect our lands and the environment, while at the same time ensuring federal tax dollars are spent wisely," Bush said.
Bush nominated Schafer in October 2007 to replace former Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, who left the agriculture post to run for the Senate. Schafer was a Republican governor of North Dakota from 1992-2000.
(Source: The Associated Press)