EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - January 20, 2005)
Mr. CHAMBLISS. I thank the Senator from Kansas for his very kind comments and also for his support of the nomination of Governor Johanns. I, of course, rise to support that nomination by the President of the United States of Governor Michael Johanns of Nebraska to serve as Secretary of Agriculture.
I, too, want to first thank our outgoing Secretary, Ann Veneman, for the great job she has done. She has faced some very serious challenges over the last 4 years. I have continually pointed out to folks involved in agriculture, as I have spoken to groups around the country, the terrific job she personally as well as her Department did relative to the potential BSE issue that arose in the northwestern part of our country several months ago.
I thought it was a prime example of the difference in the way our system works, particularly under APHIS, which is an organization that does exactly what it is supposed to do, and that is to make sure animals are inspected in an appropriate way before they come into the United States, versus countries that simply do not have in place the mechanisms that we do to try to prohibit this very terrible disease from spreading among livestock. I thought Secretary Veneman herself, by engaging immediately on this issue, showed strong leadership. I believe it was because of that that this issue faded very quickly, as it should have.
Following September 11, we have had a continuing issue of food security. We have been very fortunate, but I believe it is more than that. It is a situation where we have had strong leadership in USDA, under Secretary Veneman, that has been on top of the issue of food safety. As a result of that strong leadership, we have not encountered a potential terrorist attack on our food system.
I compliment her for the great leadership she has shown. She was willing to come to my State early on in her tenure. Having grown up and been involved in a peach farm in California, she particularly appreciated coming to a peach farm in Georgia where, as I told her, we grow much sweeter peaches, but that is always for debate.
But she made herself very knowledgeable of southeastern agricultural issues, which are a little bit different from California issues. I appreciate her from that standpoint. We wish her well in her new endeavor, and I know she is going to be very successful there.
I want to say on behalf of Governor Johanns that he is extraordinarily well prepared and qualified for this new challenge which the President is giving him.
He grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa. He served two terms as mayor of Lincoln, NB, and he is in his second term as Governor of that State. He has shown outstanding leadership during his tenure as Governor, which will serve him well in managing the diverse and important activities of the Department of Agriculture. As leader of a major agricultural State, the Governor is obviously familiar with the issues that are important to farmers and ranchers.
He has been a leader in the Western Governors Association on drought issues, and has led five trade missions to expand overseas markets for American agricultural products.
I want to emphasize that all of us who have been involved in agriculture, as I have from the legislative side for the last 10 years, know and understand that the future and survival of the American farmers is their ability to export the finest quality of agricultural products that are grown anywhere in the world. Those export markets are critical. Governor Johanns brings a particularly unique strength and perspective to that aspect of agriculture. I am very pleased about that fact.
He has also been a leader on other issues that are critical to the very diverse mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has been a strong voice for rural economic development. He is a past chairman of the Governors Ethanol Coalition, and knows the potential of value-added agriculture. He serves as chairman of the Governors Biotechnology Partnership, and has fostered electronic government and technology applications in his State.
On January 6, Governor Johanns appeared for his nomination hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry which I have the privilege to chair. For nearly 3 hours he answered questions on a wide range of subjects, and made a clear and positive impression on members of the committee. His compassion and understanding of the issues was so evident that committee members voted to approve his nomination that same day by a unanimous vote of 20 to zero.
Today in his inauguration address, the President made a direct outreach to all Members of the Senate, and showed a willingness to cooperate in a bipartisan way to try to enact positive legislation in this body.
I am very proud of the fact that the committee which I chair in a very bipartisan fashion, including the Presiding Officer, voted out unanimously the nomination of Governor Johanns.
To my ranking member, TOM HARKIN, I appreciate his cooperation in this effort. He has been very forthright in his discussions with Governor Johanns, and he has also been very forthright and forceful in his support of Governor Johanns for this nomination.
I congratulate the President on his choice to lead the Department of Agriculture for the next 4 years.
I appreciate Governor Johanns' commitment to continue an outstanding record of public service, and I recommend to my colleagues that they all support his nomination.
At this time, I yield such time as he may consume to the Senator from Nebraska, Senator Hagel.
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I urge my Senate colleagues to support the President's nomination of Governor Michael Johanns of Nebraska to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture.
Governor Johanns is extraordinarily well-prepared and qualified for this new challenge. He grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa. He has served two terms as Mayor of Lincoln, NE, and is in his second term as Governor of that State. He has shown outstanding leadership during his tenure as Governor which will serve him well in managing the diverse and important activities of the Department of Agriculture.
As leader of a major agriculture state, the Governor is obviously familiar with the issues that are important to farmers and ranchers. He has been a leader in the Western Governors' Association on drought issues and has led five trade missions to expand overseas markets for American agricultural products.
He has also been a leader on other issues that are critical to the very diverse mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has been a strong voice for rural economic development. He is a past Chairman of the Governors' Ethanol Coalition and knows the potential of value-added agriculture. He serves as Chairman of the Governors' Biotechnology Partnership and has fostered electronic-government and technology applications in his state.
Mr. President, on January 6th Governor Johanns appeared for his nomination hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, which I have the privilege to chair. For nearly 3 hours he answered questions on a wide range of subjects and made a clear and positive impression on the entire Committee. His compassion and understanding of the issues was so evident that Committee members voted to approve his nomination that same day by a unanimous 20 to 0 vote.
Mr. President, I congratulate the President on his choice to lead the Department of Agriculture for the next 4 years. I appreciate Governor Johanns' commitment to continue an outstanding record of public service and I recommend to my colleagues that they all support his nomination.
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I strongly support the confirmation of Margaret Spellings as the eighth Secretary of Education. Ms. Spellings is a longtime public servant who for the past 4 years has served as President Bush's chief domestic policy adviser. In her White House efforts, she has helped implement policies on education, health, labor and housing. Her familiarity with America's students and teachers will prove invaluable in her new role managing our public educational system.
Ms. Spellings also assisted President Bush when he was Governor of our home State of Texas, where they worked together on a number of important education programs including the Texas Reading Initiative to improve literacy, the Student Success Initiative to eliminate social promotion, and the State's accountability standard which is the forerunner to the No Child Left Behind Act. Because of her educational accomplishments, each year the United States develops more qualified teachers, better facilities and superior resources.
A veteran of the Texas Association of School Boards, Ms. Spellings knows firsthand the advantages afforded by education and has pledged to ensure every child acquires the skills necessary to realize the American Dream. I am proud to support her in that effort, and to support her confirmation so she may continue her important work.
Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the confirmation of Mike Johanns to be Secretary of Agriculture. As the former Governor of Nebraska, Mike Johanns knows how important agriculture is to this country. Through his dedicated public service he has shown a great understanding of the complex nature of the industry and the problems facing it.
Growing up on an Iowa dairy farm, Mike Johanns learned from an early age that agriculture is the backbone of this great nation. For over two centuries, hardworking men and women like Mr. Johanns have dedicated their lives to protecting the vitality of the food and fiber industry. The nomination of Mike Johanns for the position of Secretary of Agriculture is a tribute to his commitment, and I have no doubt that this commitment will bring distinction to the position of Secretary of Agriculture.
Throughout his professional career, Mike Johanns has been committed to the wellbeing of America's farmers and ranchers. As Governor, Mr. Johanns emphasized the importance of value-added agriculture, renewable fuels such as ethanol, and job creation in rural areas. Additionally, Mr. Johanns has demonstrated a keen knowledge of international trade policy, a subject that will continue to increase in importance as the world moves towards a more globalize economy. I look forward to working with Mr. Johanns to ensure that future trade agreements with the food and fiber industry are treated equitably.
Mr. Johanns has also been an important leader on drought policy, a subject that is very important to many communities in the west. I believe that with his experience in this area, the country can move forward in establishing a concrete and coherent drought policy that provides tangible benefits for those affected by this serious problem.
I know that Mr. Johanns will serve the agriculture community the utmost integrity and fairness and I look forward to working with him in the future.