ICGA 2021 Federal Synopsis

Jacqueline Muhammad

Jan 14, 2021  |  Today's News |  ICGA |  Legislation & Regulation

Illinois Corn Growers Association 2021 Federal Synopsis


In a historic move following the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump with a single article, “incitement of insurrection” just a week before his term will end. The move makes Trump the only sitting president to be impeached twice in U.S. History. The vote 232-197 was the most bipartisan impeachment in history with ten Republicans joining all Democrats.

Despite the disruption and chaos, last week members of both chambers were able to hold joint sessions, and Congress was able to affirm votes from the Electoral College to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Simultaneously, Democrats managed to flip and claim both Senate seats in Georgia. 

Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler becoming the first African-American to represent Georgia in the Senate. Fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff followed Warnock narrowly defeating Republican David Perdue in the remaining Georgia Senate race.

The dual victories for Democrats will have major implications for Biden as he prepares for cabinet hearings and sets his legislative agenda. The Senate will now be split 50-50 leaving the potential deciding vote up to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

It is unclear when the impeachment process will begin in the Senate although, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he has no intention of beginning the trial in the Senate before Biden in sworn in. 

Biden-Harris Cabinet Nominations

Now that Democrats have control of the Senate, it should be much easier for the President-elect to get his cabinet members confirmed. Biden has been open about his commitment to diversity and if confirmed his cabinet would be the most diverse in history. While some celebrate the diversity, many feel it is not enough as many African-American farmers have expressed their disappointment in his nominee for agriculture secretary feeling that there has not been enough done to rebuild trust with disenfranchised black farmers. Others feel as though the Biden nominees have too many alums from the Obama administration. For an up-to-date list of nominees please visit https://buildbackbetter.gov/nominees-and-appointees/.   

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Tom Vilsack, former Secretary of USDA for the Obama administration. After the Obama administration Vilsack led the Dairy Export Council and was an advisor on rural policy for the Biden campaign. He is perceived to be a non-controversial nominee, but many left leaning observers have voiced their disappointment in Vilsack’s nomination as they were looking for a more diverse candidate and someone seen as less of an ally to traditional agriculture. ICGA sees Vilsack as a very good nomination for Midwest Agriculture.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Michael Regan, North Carolina Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. If confirmed, Regan would be the second African-American EPA chief, after Lisa Jackson, President Obama's first-term administrator. Regan would oversee the agency carrying out Biden's climate change plans which include, eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from the power grid by 2035 and putting the country on a path toward net-zero emissions by 2050.  Regan, in an unprecedented manner, has had multiple outreach conversations with Farm Organizations, including National Corn Growers Association.

United States Department of Commerce – Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island. Raimondo reflects Biden’s push to rebuild the economy. In addition, Raimondo will also be responsible for setting international product standards and addressing trade disputes experienced under the Trump administration.


United States Department of the Treasury – Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve Chair, former Director of the National Economic Council. Yellen is seen as someone with immense experience and great respect from both sides of the aisle. If confirmed, she will be the first female Treasury secretary.

U.S. Senate

The last time the Senate was split 50-50 was in 2001 during the 107th Congress.  In 2001, out-going Vice President Al Gore had the deciding vote until the new Congress was sworn in with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Although there has been no official word, it is anticipated that much like the 107th Congress committees will be split evenly with the chair and ranking member working closely together. It has not yet been disclosed who will replace retiring Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts (R-KS). For updated committee assignments for the 117th Congress please visit https://www.senate.gov/committees/. 


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will continue to serve as Democratic Whip and will have the following committee assignments in the 117th Congress:

  • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    - Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
    - Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources
    - Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
  • Committee on Appropriations
    - Subcommittee on Department of Defense
    - Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies
    - Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
    - Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
    - Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
    - Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on the Judiciary
    - Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration
    - Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism
    - Subcommittee on Intellectual Property
    - Subcommittee on the Constitution

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will serve on the following committees during the 117th Congress:

  • Committee on Armed Services
    - Subcommittee on Airland
    - Subcommittee on Personnel
    - Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    - Subcommittee on Aviation and Space
    - Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
    - Subcommittee on Security
    - Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety
  • Committee on Environment and Public Works
    Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
    - Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife  


House of Representatives (Illinois Delegation)









Bobby Rush (D)


Danny Davis (D)


Rodney Davis (R)


Robin Kelly (D)


Raja Krishnamoorthi (D)


Lauren Underwood (D)


Marie Newman (D)


Jan Schakowsky (D)


Mary Miller (R)


Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D)


Brad Schneider (D)


Adam Kinzinger (R)


Mike Quigley (D)


Bill Foster (D)


Cheri Bustos (D)


Sean Casten (D)


Mike Bost (R)


Darin LaHood (R)








Following a disappointing performance in the November elections, Democrats will maintain control of the House. Although the party gained three seats, they lost 12, freshmen members struggled, and inside fighting took place as members tried to place blame. Despite the disappointment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was re-

elected while Rep. Cheri Bustos decided not to run for another term as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


Committee Appointments

Rep. David Scott (D-GA-13) was selected to chair the House Agriculture Committee. This appointment is highly significant as Scott is the first black lawmaker to lead the committee. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15) was elected to serve as the committee’s ranking member replacing retired member Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX-11). For updated committee assignments for the 117th Congress please visit https://www.house.gov/committees. 


Members of the Illinois delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will serve on the following committee appointments (only committees relevant to agriculture reported):


                Agriculture Committee:

  • Congresswoman Cheri Bustos 
  • Congressman Rodney Davis  
  • Congressman Mike Bost

  • Congresswoman Cheri Bustos
  • Congressman Mike Quigley
  • Congresswoman Lauren Underwood

    Energy and Commerce:
  • Congressman Bobby Rush 
  • Congresswoman Robin Kelly 
  • Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky 
  • Congressman Adam Kinzinger

    Transportation and Infrastructure: 
  • Congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia
  • Congresswoman Marie Newman 
  • Congressman Rodney Davis 
  • Congressman Mike Bost

    Ways and Means:
  • Congressman Brad Schneider
  • Congressman Darin LaHood