EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - January 20, 2005)
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Mr. HAGEL. Mr. President, thank you.
I first offer my congratulations to the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. We are pleased about Senator Chambliss's new assignment and responsibilities. I very much appreciate his taking on these new responsibilities at a time that will be critical for American agriculture as we work our way toward the reform bill, as well as central issues that will face our country directly connected to American agriculture.
I rise this afternoon to add my congratulations to the President's nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, the Nebraska Governor, Mike Johanns. I have known Mike Johanns for many years. We have worked very closely over the last few years. He has ably served the State of Nebraska during a difficult time.
As the Agriculture Committee noted in its hearings for Governor Johanns, he is eminently qualified. His background is well known. He is prepared, and he will be a very effective Secretary.
I might add, one of the reasons many of us are so enthusiastic about Mike Johanns doing this job is that he understands not only American agriculture but he understands trade. He understands geopolitical strategic issues that are connected to our agriculture, our economy, and trade.
He understands that these great issues of our time are woven into the same fabric. They are within the great arc of national interest for America. He has the kind of stature and the kind of character that we never see enough of in Washington.
For those reasons, and for many others, I am enthusiastic, as are so many of us, about Mike Johanns taking on the job of Secretary of Agriculture.
We will miss him in Nebraska. His steady leadership has brought Nebraska through a difficult time of deficits, not unlike other States. He has performed not only well but he has built a value-added system not only in our economy but in our government in Nebraska. He will be succeeded by a very able Lieutenant Governor, Dave Heineman, whom we also wish well.
As I conclude, I add my thanks to Secretary Veneman's service to our country and to American agriculture over the last 4 years. She too has had to deal with many of the uncontrollables that are part of that portfolio--a difficult job. She deserves recognition for the kind of job she has done. She has done it just as Mike Johanns will do his job--with class, with dignity, always reaching out to others, as well as working closely with the Congress.
The last point I will make is whatever was said by the Senator from Kansas about Nebraska football is not to be taken seriously.
Other than that, I think my time is up. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.
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