The Senate voted in overwhelming favor of former Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge to become the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday night.
Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Fudge, whose December nomination was confirmed with a vote of 66-34, during a virtual ceremony.
She’ll be the first Black woman to lead the department in over 40 years according to the Independent. In her first days as head of HUD, Fudge said she hopes to limit the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the struggling American housing market, CNN reports.
“My first priority as secretary would be to alleviate that crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge,” she said during her January Senate confirmation hearing, per the HUD office. “We need to make the dream of homeownership – and the security and wealth creation that comes with it – a reality for more Americans.”
Fudge’s nomination further underscored President Joe Biden’s pledge to build a cabinet that’s the most reflective of the American people. She has previously sided with President Biden in asserting that Americans need more than an extension of the eviction moratorium and $25 billion in rental assistance from Congress as the pandemic rages on for a second year. She has also pledged to uphold Biden’s commitment to build 1.5 million energy and cost efficient housing units, called for an end to discriminatory housing market practices, and vowed to tackle the homelessness crisis with resolve and compassion, according to CNN.
Fudge, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, began her law career after earning her Juris Doctorate from Cleveland State’s Marshall College of Law in 1983. In 1999, she campaigned for and won Warrensville Heights’ mayoral race in her first-ever run for an elected office, according to Iowa State University’s database on women in politics. She became the city’s first female mayor as well as Warrensville’s first Black mayor.
The 68-year-old has represented Ohio in Congress since 2008, after the passing of fellow Black representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who died of complications from brain hemorrhaging. She has also acted as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. CNN reports that the Cleveland native resigned from her role in the House shortly after the final vote was cast to approve the COVID-19 relief bill.
Despite the support from many Senate members, Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) said in January that he was skeptical of Fudge’s past remarks about the integrity and motivations of Republicans she may have had differences with. According to Boston25News, Toomey referenced a statement the new HUD leader made about the GOP being a “disgrace to this nation” after they quickly ushered in a new Supreme Court Justice following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Toomey also brought into question Fudge’s lack of experience in housing policy, according to CNN.
In response, Fudge fired back by saying that she has been known for her bipartisanship during her career as well as having the “ability and capacity to work with Republicans, and I intend to do just that.” She also mentioned that in her work as mayor of Warrensville Heights she expanded affordable housing and contributed to improving the lives of the city’s residents.
As she prepares to take on the new role, Fudge posted a video on Twitter this week thanking her supporters and constituents for coming alongside her in the work.
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
“I am honored to have served the people of Ohio’s 11th District and thank you for putting your trust in me. It has been my privilege, my pleasure and my distinct honor to serve as your representative in Congress. I look forward to beginning a new chapter of service,” she said.