Democrats set date for Vilsack Senate confirmation

Democrats set date for Vilsack Senate confirmation
Feb 17, 2021

The vote will take place on Feb. 23

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The full U.S. Senate will vote on Tom Vilsack’s nomination to be the next head of the United States Department of Agriculture next Tuesday.

“At a time to be determined on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, notwithstanding Rule 22, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to consider Executive Calendar #7, Thomas J. Vilsack, of Iowa, to be Secretary of Agriculture,” a posting on the Senate Democrats website says.

This process will differ from Vilsack’s appearance before the Senate Ag Committee earlier in the month, said Ryan Bernstein, a senior policy advisor with McGuireWoods, an organization representing food and agribusiness interests.

“At the committee hearing, senators had a chance to ask Vilsack questions and it was more of a back and forth between the nominee and Senators,” Bernstein told “On Tuesday, the Senate will just vote in favor or against Vilsack. He does not need to be there and there will be no back and forth.”

Bernstein is also a former chief of staff for North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and worked with members of the Senate on recent farm bills.

There may not be any back and forth between Vilsack and the senators, but there will be debate between Democrats and Republicans.

Each side will have 10 minutes to speak in favor of or against Vilsack’s nomination, but Bernstein doesn’t foresee any issues preventing Vilsack from receiving the Senate’s confidence.

“You may have a few senators who oppose, but he’ll easily get the votes needed,” Bernstein said.

The Democrats and Republicans have also agreed not to filibuster, meaning Vilsack only needs 51 votes in the Senate to become the next secretary of agriculture.

As of Feb. 17, seven of President Biden’s cabinet picks have received full Senate confirmation. They are:

  • Denis McDonough as secretary of veterans affairs.
  • Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation.
  • Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security.
  • Antony Blinken as secretary of state.
  • Janet Yellen as secretary of the treasury.
  • Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense.
  • Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.
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