Stabenow disappointed USDA hired nominees before confirmation | TheFencePost.com

Stabenow disappointed USDA hired nominees before confirmation

-The Hagstrom Report

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today it is "pretty disappointing" that the Trump administration has hired three nominees for Agriculture Department Senate-confirmed positions as deputies in those positions while their nominations are still pending.

Last year, President Donald Trump nominated Mindy Brashears as undersecretary for food safety, Naomi Earp as assistant secretary for civil rights and Scott Hutchins as undersecretary for research, education and economics.

The three were not confirmed in the last Congress, and Trump renominated them earlier this year.

But on Jan. 28, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that it had hired Brashears as a deputy undersecretary for food safety, Earp as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights and Hutchins as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics.

"These positions do not require Senate confirmation," USDA noted in a news release.

Stabenow told The Hagstrom Report today that "no one is trying to block" the nominations from confirmation. But she added, "It is pretty disappointing the department decided to go ahead and hire them anyway." She also said that it is "too bad the department didn't have enough confidence in our working relationship" to have allowed the confirmation process to proceed "the way it should."

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Republicans have blamed Democrats for slowing up the confirmation process, but at a hearing today on the nomination of Heath Tarbert to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., noted that positions that by law are supposed to be held by Democrats have not been filled.