The long delay for the U.S. Senate to set a confirmation hearing for Sonny Perdue as agricultural secretary could soon be over.
The former Georgia governor’s paperwork has been sent to the Senate, according to a source with direct knowledge of the development, meaning that lawmakers should soon begin to formally vet the Republican.
The paperwork was held up for weeks and the complication appeared to be with the FBI, which was conducting a comprehensive background check that’s customary for all Cabinet nominees.
The delay has led to frustration and some uneasiness on the part of Perdue’s allies, farm state lawmakers and Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has underscored the need to quickly install a new agriculture head.
“We will try to expedite it. I know the ranking member would like to expedite it,” Roberts said earlier Thursday of a hearing. “We need somebody down at the Department to be a true champion for the producer and farmers and ranchers.”
The paperwork now frees up Roberts to set a date for Perdue's confirmation hearing.
Senate committees typically announce such hearings a week in advance and tend to avoid Monday and Friday meetings, which means the week of March 20 is a solid bet.
Note that's the same week as Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's Senate confirmation hearings. If that's indeed when Perdue's hearing is also scheduled that could be a boon since it will deflect much of the spotlight away from him.