President Bush named a quiet, Capitol Hill insider, Rep. Edward Madigan, R-Ill., as his new agriculture secretary on Friday, saying he is the man to help bring American farmers "the prosperity they deserve."
Madigan, a moderate likely to sail through Senate confirmation, would replace Clayton Yeutter, who took over as chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday.The 55-year-old Illinois congressman has served in the House since 1972 and is the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee.
Madigan has long been regarded an effective lawmaker, more prone to compromise than partisan fights. He often eschews publicity, but even as a minority member, he "has had as much impact on public policy over the last decade as all but a few senior Democrats," according to Congressional Quarterly, an independent journal of Congress.
Madigan's nomination is the latest in a series of Cabinet shuffles at the midpoint of Bush's term. Bush has named new secretaries at the departments of Labor and Education, as well as a new director of federal drug policy.
One of Madigan's chief tasks will be to implement the new, five-year farm law, which reduces government crop subsidies by 15 percent. It also calls for several new programs within the department, including standards for organic farming and a host of environmental provisions.
Madigan's nomination was embraced by members of both parties.
House Minority Leader Bob Michel, R-Ill., said Madigan "has demonstrated a sympathetic knowledge of the problems of farmers and an informed understanding of complex government agriculture programs."
House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., said that after serving with Madigan, "I have absolute confidence in his ability to discharge the responsibilities of the job."