Rep. Marcia Fudge confirmed as Biden’s HUD secretary

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm the nomination of Rep. Marcia Fudge to serve as President Joe Biden’s secretary of housing and urban development, making her the first Black woman to lead the department in more than 40 years.

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Fudge, a Democrat and former mayor who has represented Ohio’s 11th Congressional District for more than a dozen years, earned bipartisan support on Wednesday, including from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate voted 66-34 to confirm her nomination.

In her January confirmation hearing, Fudge said her priorities would include addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and ending discriminatory housing practices.

“We need to deliver on the (Biden) Administration’s commitments on improving the quality, safety, and accessibility of affordable housing,” Fudge said in January. “We need to make the dream of homeownership -- and the security and wealth creation that comes with it -- a reality for more Americans.”

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Some Republicans opposed Fudge’s nomination, arguing that she was out of the mainstream.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey pointed to a statement Fudge made in September 2020, after Republican senators moved to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, despite blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee four years earlier over concerns that the nomination came too close to the 2016 presidential election.

At the time, Fudge called Senate Republicans “a disgrace to this nation” and said they “have no decency, they have no honor, they have no integrity.”

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Toomey said Fudge’s comments could have a “toxic and detrimental impact on the working relationship that ought to be a constructive relationship” between Congress and the Biden administration.

At her confirmation hearing, Fudge did not walk back any of her previous statements but described herself as “one of the most bipartisan members in the House of Representatives.”

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, vouched for her ability to work across the aisle with Republicans in January, noting that they’ve worked together on several issues important to Ohioans in recent years.

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“Just as important as her experience is, in my view, is who she is as a person,” Portman said while introducing Fudge ahead of her confirmation hearing. “I don’t always agree with Marcia on policy, she doesn’t always agree with me. But I can speak to her integrity, her commitment to justice, and strength of her character.”

Vice President Kamala Harris will swear Fudge in at a ceremony scheduled later Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.