Feds spread $1 billion for tree plantings among US cities to reduce extreme heat and benefit health
Hundreds of communities around the country will share more than $1 billion in federal money to help them plant and maintain trees under a federal program that is intended to reduce extreme heat, benefit health and improve access to nature.
Biden administration announces more new funding for rural broadband infrastructure
The Biden administration is continuing its push to bring internet connectivity to every home and business in the U.S. On Monday, the Biden administration announced a new investment of $667 million to build broadband infrastructure in rural areas of the country.
Biden goes west to talk about his administration's efforts to combat climate change
President Joe Biden will travel to Arizona, New Mexico and Utah next week and is expected to talk about his administration’s efforts to combat climate change as the region endures a brutally hot summer with soaring temperatures.
U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest $300 million in monitoring agricultural emissions
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will invest $300 million on monitoring and reporting planet-warming emissions from climate-smart agricultural processes, such as no-till agriculture and planting cover crops.
Agricultural producers and food businesses throught nation getting $320M boost from USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeding agricultural producers and food businesses with millions of dollars in investments designed to improve markets, create and strengthen jobs, control food prices and improve nutrition.
Tribe warns US government against moving ahead with mine
Native American tribal members fighting plans for an enormous copper mine on land they consider sacred say they are increasingly worried U.S. officials will move forward on the project even as they await a federal appellate court ruling in the case.
US plans $50B wildfire fight where forests meet civilization
The Biden administration says it will significantly expand efforts to stave off catastrophic wildfires that have been torching areas of the U.S. West by more aggressively thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighborhoods collide.
USDA relocations curtail ag research, farmer confidence
Hiring at the Kansas City site remains well below the roughly 550 high-paying jobs local leaders had anticipated. However, he said those frustrations have dealt more with reports published by other USDA agencies, and that some farmers may be confusing them. For example, a two-year research project on pollinators such as honeybees was shelved because the entire team working on it left the agency rather than move to Kansas City. In October 2016 — before Trump's first year in office — ERS had 318 permanent employees, according to USDA data. “And here in the United States, what we do with groups like that — we can’t send them to Siberia, so we send them to Kansas City.”
A look at how Biden's Cabinet nominees fared Tuesday
(Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's Cabinet is starting to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday. “And that’s what we intend to do.”Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that all Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly qualified for their positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to consider during the previous administration.”But one of Biden's nominees, Neera Tanden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in trouble in the evenly divided Senate. Currently California's attorney general, Becerra appeared Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “I'm not sold yet,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ranking Republican on the health committee, said, addressing Becerra. ___INTERIORRep. Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Vilsack confirmed for 2nd stint as US agriculture secretary
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same Department of Agriculture for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. “We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” Vilsack said after the vote. AdWith systemic racial inequity now a nationwide talking point, Vilsack also envisioned creating an “equity task force” inside the department.
Black farmers unconvinced by Vilsack's 'root out' racism vow
AdJohn Boyd Jr., a Virginia farmer who is president of the National Black Farmers Association, has voiced his concerns during several conversations with the nominee. AdSome Black farmers want Biden to sign an executive order they drafted halting foreclosures on Black-owned farms and making other civil rights reforms. But Vilsack's supporters contend lending to Black farmers was prioritized during his time at the department. At the beginning of Obama's first term, USDA made 557 direct farm loans to Black farmers, representing less than 2.4% of all direct loans. By 2015, that number had risen to 945 loans, with nearly 3.4% of direct loans going to Black farmers.
Iowa governor auctioned off access for pork barons' charity
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa Gov. AdThe records show Reynolds has supported policies Iowa Select has sought, made several appearances for the corporation and its charity, and routinely spoken with Jeff Hansen. Ad“From the top of the gold dome to the Governor’s office, you’ll be treated to a tour unlike any other!” it said. Weeks after he won the auction, Reynolds was a keynote speaker at Lynch's annual charity banquet in Decorah. Iowa Select spokeswoman Jen Sorenson said the company feels “an important responsibility” to educate elected officials on Iowa's multibillion-dollar animal agriculture industry, saying it leads to better policy.
Agriculture secretary nominee Vilsack endorses biofuels push
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Tom Vilsack, President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of agriculture, pledged Tuesday to focus on climate change initiatives and work to address racial inequities in agricultural assistance programs. Vilsack, who testified before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, would bring much on-the-job experience to the position. In addition to serving two terms as the governor of Iowa, he spent eight years as President Barack Obama's Agriculture Secretary. But if you don’t have a grocery store, what then?”AdVilsack seems to enjoy bipartisan support and faced no serious criticism from Republicans on the committee.
What Biden's Cabinet picks say about how he plans to govern
His Cabinet picks help demonstrate how he plans to deliver. Many have already begun meeting with interest groups and advocacy organizations, and his transition team has had what’s been described as an “open-door policy” toward advocacy groups for months. It’s a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which was dominated largely by white men with little experience in Washington. Biden’s aides say that was one of the goals he set in filling out his Cabinet: to signal that his presidency means a return to competent, stable leadership government. While Salguero recalled meetings with the Trump administration on key issues, he said the Biden transition team’s outreach already has gone further.
Transition stumbles test Biden's bond with Capitol Hill
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2020, file photo, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, of S.C., speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden brings more Capitol Hill experience than any president in decades. Biden's team swiftly adjusted, introducing Black, Latino and Asian American nominees as the president-elect vows to build the most diverse administration in history. Biden’s team incensed Hispanic and Asian and Pacific American lawmakers with its handling of Cabinet choices from their communities. “Democrats are always lecturing Republican senators about approving future Biden Cabinet nominees even if we don’t agree with them,” Grassley said.
Biden's challenge: Building Cabinet that meets all his goals
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Shortly after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last month, Cabinet hopeful Marcia Fudge pointedly noted that Black people are often typecast into positions such as housing secretary. He’s pledged to nominate the most diverse Cabinet in history and restore experience at beleaguered federal agencies. The GOP has barely acknowledged Biden's victory so the cooperation of its senators in the confirmation process is far from certain. “That’s why we are worried.”One prominent feature of Biden’s picks so far: deep ties to the Obama administration. Brent Colburn, a former Obama administration official who served in several agencies, encouraged Democrats to consider the bigger picture as they judge Biden's Cabinet.
Tom Vilsack faces new challenges as he returns to old job
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Vilsack to reprise that role in his administration. Vilsack “has the necessary qualifications and experience to steer the agency through these turbulent times,” said Rob Larew, the president of the National Farmers Union. Then mayor of Mount Pleasant in southeast Iowa, Vilsack volunteered for the up-and-coming Biden before he exited the presidential race. Despite that, in 2007, after his own brief presidential campaign, Vilsack endorsed Hillary Clinton, even with Biden also running. In his endorsement, Vilsack called Biden “a man with empathy, and a man who has the heart of a president.
The Latest: Biden's picks point to their diverse backgrounds
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON – The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):3:55 p.m.Several of the latest picks announced by President-elect Joe Biden are emphasizing the diversity of the backgrounds as they prepare to join an administration Biden has promised will reflect the varied experiences of Americans. Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, noted he grew up in an orphanage near Pittsburgh. Biden spoke while introducing Vilsack, Fudge and three other top picks for his administration on Friday. ___3:05 p.m.President-elect Joe Biden says the American public should have confidence in a coronavirus vaccine that may soon begin to become available. Biden fills Cabinet with former White House leaders— Hundreds of GOP members sign onto Texas-led election lawsuit— Joe Biden, Kamala Harris named Time magazine’s Person of the Year
Biden unveils top picks with deep Obama administration ties
Susan Rice, the Biden administration's choice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. – President-elect Joe Biden on Friday introduced five top picks for his new administration, drawing on leading names from the Obama White House while also tapping an Ohio congresswoman and a congressional committee veteran. “If we come out of the box on jobs, jobs, jobs, I feel great. She worked closely with Biden when he was Obama's vice president and won't require Senate confirmation — which could have faced stiff Republican opposition. Rice and Fudge are African American and Tai is Asian American, reflecting Biden's promise to choose a diverse Cabinet that reflects the makeup of the country.
Obama reunion? Biden fills Cabinet with former WH leaders
President-elect Joe Biden is nominating former President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff Denis McDonough as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Increasingly deep into the process of selecting Cabinet members and other senior staff, the incoming Biden administration has a distinctly Obama feel. There's Denis McDonough, former President Barack Obama's chief of staff who Biden announced on Thursday would be nominated as the secretary of veterans affairs. Susan Rice, Obama's former U.N. ambassador and national security adviser, was named the director of Biden's White House Domestic Policy Council. Jeff Zients, who did stints as acting Office of Management and Budget director and a top economic adviser in the Obama White House, will return as Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator.
Biden taps Rice as domestic policy adviser, McDonough for VA
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2020 file photo, former national security adviser Susan Rice takes part in a discussion on global leadership at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. President-elect Joe Biden is naming Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The move marks a surprising shift for Rice, a longtime Democratic foreign policy expert who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador. In selecting Rice and McDonough, Biden is continuing to stockpile his administration with prominent members of the Obama administration. In choosing Rice to oversee the White House council, advisers said Biden is signaling the importance of domestic policy in his early agenda. McDonough was previously Obama’s deputy national security adviser, including during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and was a longtime congressional staffer.
AP sources: Biden to pick Katherine Tai as top trade envoy
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate Katherine Tai to be the top U.S. trade envoy, according to two people familiar with his plans. Biden's selection of Tai, who is Asian American, reflects his promise to choose a diverse Cabinet that reflects the makeup of the country. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Tai earlier oversaw China trade enforcement for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, setting U.S. strategy in trade disputes with China. Biden’s trade representative will inherit a trade war with China, put on pause by an interim trade pact in January that left many of the hardest issues unresolved and U.S. taxes remaining on $360 billion in Chinese imports. As the top trade staffer at Ways and Means, Tai handled negotiations last year with the Trump administration over a revamped North American trade deal.
AP sources: Biden picks Fudge for housing, Vilsack for USDA
Two Democratic women are contenders to be President-elect Joe Biden's secretary of agriculture. Vilsack spent eight years as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration and served two terms as Iowa governor. A longtime member of the House Agriculture Committee and a fierce advocate for food stamps, Fudge was originally discussed to become agriculture secretary. After two terms, Vilsack ran a 10-week campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination before withdrawing and throwing his support to Hillary Clinton, even as Biden remained among the field. Politico first reported the news of Fudge’s selection, while Axios was first to report Vilsack as agriculture secretary.
Biden weighs pick for agriculture chief from diverse slate
Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are in the running for the Cabinet position. (House Television via AP)WASHINGTON – One leading candidate for agriculture secretary hails from Cleveland, has the backing of progressives and has worked for years to boost food stamp programs. Tom Vilsack, who served as Obama’s agriculture secretary for eight years, is also being considered. Biden has said he wants a diverse Cabinet, and some Black leaders have said he needs to do more to achieve that. “You won't find a better person thant Heidi Heitkamp,” Manchin said in a statement, adding that she would make a “tremendous” agriculture secretary.
Key departures signal agriculture shakeup for Capitol Hill
MINNEAPOLIS – The reelection defeat of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in Minnesota and some key retirements mean a shakeup is coming for the industry on Capitol Hill, with power likely to shift from the Midwest to the South and the coasts. Both the House and Senate agriculture committees will get new chairs, and there will be a new top Republican on the House panel. Fischbach plans to seek a seat on the Agriculture Committee, but she'll have to draw heavily on her legislative skills to have much of an influence as a freshman in the minority party. Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the only one of the top four agriculture committee leaders returning in 2021. Neither Roberts nor Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, the ranking Republican in the House committee, sought reelection.
Iowa again a battleground, sign of Trump's Midwest obstacles
But there are signs Iowa may be competitive again. Deep concerns about the economy and dissatisfaction with Trump's handling of the coronavirus have changed dynamics of the race. However, Iowa, where Trump won by 9.4 percentage points in 2016, echoes the trend in Ohio, where Trump won by 8 but is now in a pitched battle with Biden. “I believe it is a close race in Iowa," former Iowa Gov. In 2018, Democrats showed signs of resurgence, even though Republican Kim Reynolds became the first woman to be elected Iowa governor.
Biden's Iowa hires signal tightening in state Trump won big
DES MOINES, Iowa Joe Biden's presidential campaign has lined up a senior team in Iowa, a sign Democrats see the state where Republican Donald Trump beat them handily in 2016 as within reach. Joining Norris as Biden's Iowa campaign director is Lauren Dillon, who directed Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 2020 Iowa caucus campaign. She was a senior advertising strategist for Democratic Senate candidates during the 2018 midterm elections after serving in several roles at the Democratic National Committee. The tightening in Iowa follows incremental gains by Democrats since Trump carried the state. The Trump campaign named a senior Iowa team almost a year ago, including Eric Branstad, son of former Gov.
Democrats fight for chance to take on GOP Sen. Ernst in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa Four relatively unknown Iowa Democrats are competing in a primary Tuesday to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, an endeavor viewed as a long shot when better-known prospects last year took a pass on running. But as Democrats are increasingly bullish about their prospects in places such as Arizona and Colorado, the Iowa race is getting renewed attention as a potential battleground that could help the party regain the Senate majority. Greenfield's fundraising prowess reflects a broad array of support among Iowa Democrats. As of a week ago, nearly 500,000 Iowa voters, about one-quarter of the states electorate, had requested absentee ballots, the highest number of absentee ballot requests for any Iowa election, primary or general. The influx of primary-voting Democrats, including those who have been less active in recent cycles, could signal a resurgence of Iowa Democrats.