UPDATE: Branstad will resign on Wednesday after Senate confirms Branstad as Ambassador to China
Gov. Terry Branstad will resign as governor of Iowa on Wednesday and immediately be sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China, according to a news release.
Shortly after Branstad’s resignation, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will be sworn in as Iowa’s 43rd governor at the Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines.
The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next ambassador to China, 82-13.
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.
During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Branstad assured lawmakers that he would not shy away from confronting Beijing on a range of issues, including human rights and trade.
Branstad, 70, says he intends to use his decades-long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) to advance U.S. and international interests. The two met in 1985 when Xi, then a provincial official, led an agricultural trade delegation to Iowa.
Branstad is in his sixth nonconsecutive term as Iowa's governor. With more than 22 years at the helm of state government, he is the country's longest serving governor.Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) speech to the U.S. Senate:
Gov. Branstad's statement on Senate confirmation:
"I want to thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for nominating me to be the United States Ambassador to the People's Republic of China. I also want to thank Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and the United States Senate for the confidence they have placed in me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a boy from a small farm in Leland, Iowa, would one day have the opportunity to represent my country and my state on the world stage, working closely with one of the world's most influential countries and one of America's largest trading partners. None of this would have been possible without the dedicated love and support of my wife Chris and my family.
"While I'm temporarily leaving the state I love and have governed for over 22 years, I know I'm leaving Iowa in great hands with Kim Reynolds as governor. I look forward to working with both my friend President Donald Trump and my old friend President Xi Jinping for the mutual benefit of both of our countries and the rest of the world."
Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann's statement:
"Terry Branstad is Iowa. And now, we are happy to share the best this state has to offer with 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. Our sincere gratitude and prayers go with him as he embarks on this next journey."
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's statement:
"It is great news for Iowa and for the nation that Governor Branstad is now confirmed and will soon be in place as Ambassador to China. Governor Branstad is uniquely qualified to serve in this critically important position and will vigorously support our nation's interests. Through his hard work promoting Iowa products around the world, the Governor has built strong relationships with Chinese President Xi and numerous leaders and officials across the country that will serve our nation well. I want to thank Gov. Branstad for his service to our great state as Governor and I wish him all the best and look forward to continuing to work with him in this new and important role."
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Derek Eadon's response:
"We congratulate Governor Branstad on his appointment and wish him well in China. But this transition leaves Iowans with serious questions about the state's path forward.
"Iowans need a governor focused on supporting job creation and strengthening middle class families. As Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds' record has shown other priorities: focusing on purely partisan agenda while the future of our state has been jeopardized.
"Lt. Gov. Reynolds has lobbied to defund Planned Parenthood, she led the charge to take away basic rights from workers, and she stripped power away from local governments to set their own minimum wage. Meanwhile, she failed to support education as she supported a state budget that threatens the future of public education in Iowa by raising tuition at community colleges and cutting vital reading programs for our children. And she stood by as Iowa's financial security crumbled, with budget shortfalls topping hundreds of millions due to mismanagement.
"Kim Reynolds' record as Lieutenant Governor raises serious warning signs for Iowans. As she becomes governor, Iowa voters will hold her accountable for her record."