Senate confirms Iowa Governor Branstad as ambassador to China

Joy Corning

The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.

Mr Branstad, who like Mr Trump is 70, has known Chinese President Xi Jinping since the mid-1980s, when the Asian leader visited Iowa as a provincial official.

Branstad, who was elected governor in 1982 and returned in 2011 for his sixth nonconsecutive term, in recent years also privatized Iowa's Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled without legislative approval, a move he defended amid a court challenge and one that he claims saved the state money in the long run.

The longest serving state governor in USA history, Branstad is now serving his sixth nonconsecutive four-year term.

Reynolds and Branstad were both aligned by party with the Republican-held Iowa House and Iowa Senate. Branstad has also traveled to China several times on trade missions.

It has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa alongside Governor Branstad - the longest serving governor in United States history - and I am thrilled to continue to work with him in his new role serving the American people.




With the vote, Branstad will resign as Governor later this week, clearing the way for Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds to become Iowa's first female Governor.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Branstad had worked hard to push relations between Chinese and USA regions and China hoped he could play an even more positive role in increasing understanding and promoting relations once he takes office.

He was nominated by United States president Donald Trump to be the next ambassador to China in December 2016.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey called Branstad's departure "bitter sweet" but said the council was excited for the governor's new opportunity in China and the prospects for expanding trade in a key region of the world. "Branstad's work ethic is boundless, his passion to make a difference is strong, and perhaps most importantly, his heart is one with Iowa". In typical Branstad style, he did not limit his future endeavors - including another run for governor.

"He will bring Midwestern humility and level-headed leadership to the job", Grassley said. "She's a thrower and I'm a saver, let's put it that way, but that's always been the case", he noted. "I think your on-the-ground experience with China will serve our nation well".

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