U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted the following statement to the congressional record on the vote to confirm George “Sonny” Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture:
“Mr. President, I support the nomination of George “Sonny” Perdue to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. While I have reservations about some of his record and views, particularly about climate change, Governor Perdue has expressed the collaborative spirit that I believe will make him an effective Secretary and partner to Congress in our effort to support America’s farmers and rural communities.
“During his confirmation hearing, Governor Perdue committed to support issues of great importance to Maryland: the Chesapeake Bay, conservation programs, agricultural research, and rural development. Governor Perdue recognized the Chesapeake Bay as a national priority. He acknowledged that it is essential for USDA to work with state and local governments, as well as landowners, on conservation and Bay protection. He agreed to work with Congress and the states to dedicate appropriate resources to nutrient reduction and water quality improvements in the Bay. I also encouraged him to work with me to support small- and medium-sized farms and to keep our 1890 Historically Black Colleges and Universities strong, and he committed to do so.
“Governor Perdue voiced support for the critical Federal assistance that the Department’s rural development agency provides to rural communities in Maryland and the nation as a whole. He also committed to working with Congress to improve broadband and telecommunications infrastructure in rural America.
“Governor Perdue faces a budget that cuts the Department 21 percent, completely eliminates the Water and Wastewater loan program, and reduces staffing at USDA Service Center Agencies. The budget’s $17.9 billion cut would harm those the Department serves and the people who work there. I expect Governor Perdue to keep his word to be a forceful advocate for his Department.
“Mr. President, I have concerns about ethics controversies during Mr. Perdue’s tenure as Governor of Georgia and his climate change skepticism. If the Senate confirms Governor Perdue, I will pay close attention to his actions as Secretary. Governor Perdue has made a number of commitments to support agriculture and environmental conservation in Maryland, and I intend to hold him to them.”