Senate confirms Rep. Marcia Fudge as President Biden’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Ohio’s Rep. Marcia Fudge as President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary in a 66 to 34 vote. The Warrensville Heights Democrat will be the first woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years and the second Black woman in history to lead the department.
As HUD Secretary, Fudge has pledged to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for more Americans by ending discriminatory practices in the housing market, and ensure that fair housing rules open the door for families, “especially families of color who have been systematically kept out in the cold across generations, to buy homes and punch their ticket to the middle class.”
During her January confirmation hearing, Fudge said she wants to expand resources for HUD’s programs to people who are eligible, build 1.5 million new affordable homes and “deliver on the Administration’s commitments on improving the quality, safety, and accessibility of affordable housing.
“The housing crisis isn’t isolated by geography,” said Fudge, who has represented Northeast Ohio in Congress since 2008. “It is the daily reality for tens of millions of our fellow Americans - people in blue states and red states, in cities and small towns. My first priority as Secretary would be to alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge.”
Fudge announced her resignation from Congress soon after the Senate vote. She subsequently swore to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution during a brief, virtual swearing-in ceremony administered by Vice President Kamala Harris. Fudge was at her home in Warrensville Heights with her mother, Marian Saffold, holding the Bible. Harris congratulated Fudge and extended birthday greetings to Saffold.
“Happy birthday, and thank you for giving the nation your daughter,” Harris said. “Madame Secretary, I look forward to seeing you soon.”
It’s the honor of my life to serve as Secretary of @HUDgov. I can’t wait to get to work. pic.twitter.com/EdNph1tOUI
— Secretary Marcia L. Fudge (@SecFudge) March 10, 2021
After he gets official notice that Fudge has resigned, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will set dates for special primary and general elections to pick her successor in representing the strongly Democratic 11th congressional district that stretches between Cleveland and Akron. Fudge’s staffers will continue to conduct constituent service work until voters pick her replacement.
Seven Democrats are campaigning for the seat: Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, former state Sens. Nina Turner and Shirley Smith, former City Councilman Jeff Johnson, former state Reps. Bryan Flannery and John Barnes, Jr., and Navy veteran Tariq Shabazz.
Fudge grew up in Shaker Heights, arriving there from Cleveland when she was in sixth grade. She graduated from Ohio State University and Cleveland Marshall College of Law, and served as mayor of Warrensville Heights before she was elected to Congress. She is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has served as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., the largest public service sorority for African-American women, and chaired the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
In remarks before the vote, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Fudge “has a difficult job ahead of her.”
“Millions of Americans are behind on the rent and 3 million homeowners are in forbearance,” said Schumer. “At the same time we’re on the verge of passing major assistance for renters, and for homeowners. As the incoming Secretary, I know Rep. Fudge will implement that assistance with alacrity.”
House Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he voted for Fudge because “presidents should be able to stand up a team so long as the nominees are qualified and mainstream.”
It has been a privilege, pleasure, and distinct honor to serve the people of Ohio’s 11th District in Congress for the last 12 years.
Thank you for placing your trust in me. pic.twitter.com/lESLKoFW6q
— Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (@RepMarciaFudge) March 10, 2021
“These aren’t the nominees that any Republican would have picked for these jobs,” McConnell said of Fudge and Biden’s nominee for Attorney General, appellate judge Merrick Garland.
The top Republican on the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, said he voted against Fudge because he believes her past rhetoric critical of Republicans “makes clear that she lacks the temperament to collaborate with Congress, particularly across the aisle with Republican members.” He cited a speech she delivered on the House of Representatives floor that called Senate Republicans “a disgrace to the nation,” and claimed they had “no decency, no honor.”
“The Senate should really only confirm officers who are willing to cooperate with legislators, especially now when we have rapid expansion of many government programs,” said Toomey.
The top Democrat on that committee, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, defended Fudge, who represents the section of Cleveland where he resides.
“I can think of no one better to lead us out of this pandemic and create strong communities for the future than Marcia Fudge,” said Brown.
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman also supported Fudge’s nomination. He released a statement after the vote that applauded “her impressive work on housing issues affecting her constituents,” such as poverty, and lack of accessible and affordable housing.
“I believe she has the experience and the capability to navigate the federal bureaucracy and effectively address the housing issues facing the country, especially the ongoing eviction crisis as a result of COVID-19,” Portman said. “I look forward to working with Marcia in her new role and am confident she will make Ohio proud.”
Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan released a statement after the vote that said he “couldn’t be more excited” that Fudge will be the new HUD Secretary.
“I know that she has a deep understanding of the issues surrounding blight, disinvestment, and poverty faced by so many Americans, and I have every confidence that she will be an ally to our communities in Ohio and across the country,” Ryan’s statement said.
The current chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Columbus Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, released a statement that congratulated Fudge and said she looks forward to working with her.
“Although she and her scholarly advice will be sorely missed in Congress, her command of the issues impacting our most vulnerable, at-risk Americans will undoubtedly have a life-altering impact on countless individuals and families,” Beatty’s statement said.