Policy Update: March 31, 2017

02:51PM Mar 30, 2017
( )

Perdue | Bill Northey | Trump and China leader | Ryan worries | Trump takes on Freedom Caucus | New World Food Program head

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material; therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

It may take until May to get Sonny Perdue confirmed on the Senate floor, but he’s a shoo-in for the top spot at USDA.

The Senate Agriculture Committee easily approved the nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue for USDA Secretary following a Senate floor vote. The committee had planned a nomination vote Wednesday after senators assemble for a floor vote, but no votes were scheduled.

After next Friday, the Senate goes on recess for two weeks, returning just five days before the stopgap spending bill runs out on April 28. Since Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and the spending deal will take time, it is possible that Senate leaders may not put up Perdue’s floor vote until May — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he wants to hold a vote for Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch before the chamber leaves for Easter recess on April 7, but has not laid out a timeline for Perdue's confirmation vote.

Who will be USDA’s Deputy Secretary? Though no final decision has been made, some sources signal a popular candidate in the running is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is a fourth-generation Iowa farmer who grows corn and soybeans. 

Trump to meet China leader April 6-7. The White House finally made it official by announcing that, "President Donald J. Trump will host President Xi Jinping of China at Mar-a-Lago April 6–7, 2017. This will be the first meeting between President Trump and President Xi. ... The President and the First Lady will also host President Xi and Madame Peng Liyuan at a dinner on the evening of April 6." White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this month that the meeting would seek to “defuse tensions over North Korea and the recent deployment” of the first stages of the US Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea. Read more from Ting Shi.

One issue that may come up is a Wall Street Journal report that the US is preparing a review of China’s bid for market-economy status under the World Trade Organization. The administration appears ready to formalize China’s unfavorable status in trade cases, which means the country’s goods would be eligible for higher U.S. tariffs, the paper said, citing documents from the U.S. Commerce Department website. The review is expected to be announced as early as this week, it said.

Ryan worries about pushing Trump to Democrats side. In an interview with CBS This Morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed fears that the GOP is pushing President Donald Trump to the other side of the aisle after last week's health-care bill collapse. "I don't want that to happen," he said, referring to Trump's offer to work with Democrats.

Some reports this morning signal House Republicans may try to hold another vote next week on their ObamaCare replacement. Seems like they don’t want to face voters when they go home during Easter recess that they were unable to appeal and replace ObamaCare. And note the next item…

Trump threatens to ‘fight’ Freedom Caucus in midterms. President Trump on Thursday launched an attack against the conservative House Freedom Caucus, saying the group could “hurt the entire Republican agenda” if they continue to clash with party leaders. “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” the president tweeted.

Former South Carolina governor to head World Food Program. David Beasley, governor of South Carolina from 1995-99, will become executive director of the UN World Food Program on April 4, succeeding fellow American Ertharin Cousin for a five-year term, announced UN Secretary General António Guterres.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material; therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.