The Bush Administration is putting pressure on Senator Tom Harkin to schedule a Senate Ag Committee vote on an Iowan nominated to serve in the U-S-D-A. Tom Dorr, a farmer from Marcus, Iowa, was nominated by President Bush to be undersecretary for rural development, and while there was a Senate Ag Committee hearing on Dorr’s nomination a few months ago, Harkin — who’s committee chairman — has never scheduled a vote. Deputy Secretary Jim Mosley says Dorr’s just been cleared by an inspector general who examined the finances of Dorr’s family farm and its federal farm payments. Mosley says now it’s time for the Ag Committee to move forward with Dorr’s nomination. Mosley’s boss, the U-S Ag Secretary, yesterday questioned whether Harkin was being fair to Dorr. He says it’s hopeful the nomination would come to a vote in the committee so they know how the committee feels on door.Harkin says he’s not sure Dorr should get the job because Harkin says Dorr “knowingly and consciously jiggled his farming operation to get around” federal farm payment limits, and it would send a bad signal to others who abide by the rules to confirm Dorr for a high post in the U-S-D-A. Harkin says he’s never opposed any Iowan who’s been nominated by Presidents Reagan, Clinton or the two Bushes. He says he’s “not so certain about this nominee.”Harkin today responded to Ag Secretary Ann Venneman’s charge that he’s not being fair to Dorr. Harkin says he wants to be sure that “someone doesn’t get a position for which he is ill-equipped, and for which they may not be deserving for their past actions.” Harkin says he’s not going to rubber-stamp anyone. Harkin says he and other members of the Ag Committee asked for information about Dorr’s farming operation in March, but haven’t received it yet. He says there’s going to be a real question for the committee after a tape recording surface in which Harkin says Dorr admitted setting up an arrangement to get around the payment limitations.Dorr has admitted he told federal officials part of the family farming operation was a crop-sharing arrangement, when it was actually a cash rent deal.
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