Scott moves one step closer to House Agriculture chairmanship

Georgia Democrat poised to become first African American to lead panel

Scott received backing Tuesday from the Steering Committee. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Scott received backing Tuesday from the Steering Committee. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Posted December 2, 2020 at 11:23am

The House Democratic Caucus is expected to back Georgia Rep. David Scott’s bid to become the next House Agriculture chairman — and the first African American to lead the panel — after the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee endorsed him for the post.

Scott beat Rep. Jim Costa of California for the Steering Committee’s support on Tuesday. The vote was 32 for Scott and 19 for Costa, according to a source familiar with the process. The full House Democratic Caucus will vote Thursday on the Steering Committee’s recommendations for chairmanships in the 117th Congress. 

Both Scott and Costa are longtime members of the Agriculture Committee and are subcommittee chairmen. Each declared himself a candidate for the chairmanship on Nov. 5 and spent the past weeks gathering endorsements from colleagues and industry groups.

[It’s farm groups vs. lawmakers in rivalry for House Agriculture gavel]

During the campaign for the chairmanship, Costa garnered support from California agriculture groups and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which he is a member. He was vying to become the first Agriculture chairman from his state since Republican John Bidwell served from 1865 to 1867.

But Scott had support from colleagues, committee seniority and a letter of support from outgoing Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., who lost his reelection bid on Nov. 3. 

Neither candidate's office responded to a request for comment.

Scott highlighted his work on the committee over 18 years and his family’s roots in agriculture in a segregated South. In a Nov. 5 statement, he said there is a need to ensure “that racial justice and economic equality is brought forth in our farming industry.”

“Rebuilding our economy must be inclusive and equitable, incorporating job growth and revitalization to strengthen our nation as a whole,” he said.

Scott’s nomination drew support from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association on Wednesday.

"Congressman Scott is a devoted friend of America’s cattle producers and I congratulate him on being selected by his colleagues to lead the House Agriculture Committee,” the association’s CEO, Colin Woodall, said in a statement. “His leadership and expertise on cattle issues demonstrates his commitment to helping producers succeed."