Glickman Chosen to Head Agriculture Dept.
By Ruth Marcus
President Clinton yesterday named outgoing Rep. Dan Glickman as his new agriculture secretary, saying the Kansas Democrat would be "a vocal advocate of the interests of American agriculture."
Glickman, who blamed his surprise November defeat in part on the unpopularity of the president whose Cabinet he is joining, replaces Mike Espy. Espy was forced to resign in October effective Dec. 31 after revelations that he accepted such gifts as free travel and football tickets from companies regulated by his department. An independent counsel is investigating the matter.
In the Rose Garden ceremony announcing Glickman's selection, Clinton went out of his way to praise Espy, who was also in attendance. He said the "tireless" Espy had done a "superb job," accomplishing the most sweeping reorganization of the department in 50 years and managing flood relief efforts "with speed, compassion and competence."
Glickman, the president said, "will not only carry on the innovations begun by Secretary Espy but break new ground in our efforts to increase farm exports and bridge the differences between rural and urban members of Congress."
Glickman said he would be taking office at a time when budget constraints provoked questions about the utility of some farm programs, "raising questions which will cause those of us in agriculture to rethink fundamental tenets of those programs." Glickman said he welcomed the challenge, adding, "Agriculture is not and should not be immune to change."
The announcement of Glickman's selection drew praise from his fellow Kansan, incoming Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole (R). "President Clinton has made a good choice," he said. "I plan to support Dan's nomination, which I expect will sail through the Senate."
A friend of White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta, Glickman -- who had sought the job at the start of the administration edged out Deputy Agriculture Secretary Richard E. Rominger and House Agriculture Committee Chairman E "Kika" de la Garza (D-Tex.) to replace Espy.
The 50-year-old Kansan was defeated in his bid for a 10th term from his Wichita district by a Republican state senator who had backing from the religious right and the gun lobby. Glickman opposed Clinton this fall when he voted against the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the new world trade pact. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, he argued that farm subsidy programs should be focused on low- and middle-income farmers. He was a key architect of the 1989 drought disaster relief bill and the 1990 farm bill.
That farm bill expires next year amid some GOP suggestions that it is time to consider cutting agriculture subsidies. Glickman will also take over the department at a time of extensive cutbacks in which staff will be reduced by 11,000 and 1,274 field offices will be consolidated or closed in the next three years.
The incoming chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who will oversee Glickman's confirmation hearings, said Glickman "has been an important legislator with an impressive record in the production of farm bills" but held off saying whether he favored the selection.
Lugar said it was "astonishing to hear the Clinton administration taking credit" for restructuring the Agriculture Department as part of its reinventing government initiative. "They've been pushed and shoved and pawed all the way," he said.
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