The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has advanced the nomination of Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) — President Joe Biden’s nominee to become the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — to the full Senate for confirmation. This is according to reporting at Cleveland.com and a record of the executive session of the Banking Committee.
Fudge’s nomination was approved by the committee in a vote of 17-7, with bipartisan support. However, several prominent Republicans on the committee expressed concern about previous statements made by Secretary-designate Fudge.
“I’m troubled by multiple statements Rep. Fudge has made through the years attacking and disparaging the integrity and motives of Republican officials with whom she has policy disagreements,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.). The senator was referring to comments made by Rep. Fudge where she said that Republicans don’t seem to care about issues that affect people of color.
Also cited was Fudge’s relative lack of housing experience, Toomey said, since her positions and committee placements in the House of Representatives have not been involved in setting a great deal of housing policy.
“I’m concerned that Rep. Fudge’s approach will be to simply ask Congress for more money for HUD without working to reform it,” Toomey said. “And I think such reform is needed to ensure that HUD programs are improved.”
While also citing concern over previous statements that Fudge has made about Republicans, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) still voted to approve advancing her nomination while calling her “quite intelligent, motivated and tenacious.”
New committee chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) lauded Fudge’s nomination and looks forward to working with her upon confirmation, he said.
“Without affordable homes and safe neighborhoods, people don’t live as long, their medical care is inadequate, their children attend struggling schools, they don’t have nearby grocery stores with nutritious food options,” Brown said. “In short, housing is the gateway to opportunity, we all know that, into building a middle class life.”
Brown said he will immediately recommend that Fudge’s nomination go before the full Senate for a vote, though acknowledged that the legislative agenda may be complicated by an upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump slated to begin on February 9.
At her confirmation hearing last week, Rep. Fudge was asked several questions by senators regarding past statements she has made about her Republican colleagues, but vowed to be a partner to anyone who wants to work with HUD in good faith.
“Let me just suggest that I have always been able to work across the aisle, I have a reputation that shows my bipartisanship,” Fudge told Sen. Toomey at last week’s hearing. “I have always listened. I am one of the most bipartisan members in the House of Representatives. And I think that if you would check, my record would reflect that.”
Recently, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan both expressed support for Fudge’s nomination and timely confirmation by the Senate. Also recently expressing support for Fudge’s nomination is the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA), according to a letter submitted to Senate Banking Committee leadership last week.
“We believe Rep. Fudge’s longstanding commitment to equality and opportunity, combined with her 12 years of experience as a Member of Congress, makes her extremely well-positioned to lead HUD in confronting our nation’s affordable homeownership and rental housing challenges, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis,” writes NRMLA President Steve Irwin in the letter.