Biden will nominate Rep. Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development


Correction: This article has been updated to correct that Marcia Fudge would be the second Black woman to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, if confirmed.

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

Fudge has served in the House since 2008. Prior to being elected to Congress, she was mayor of Warrensville Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.

If confirmed, Fudge would be the second Black woman to lead HUD. The department focuses on federal policy surrounding housing. It will likely play a key role following the coronavirus pandemic, where many across the country are struggling to pay for their rent or mortgages.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, is one of the leading candidates for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, is one of the leading candidates for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration.

On Tuesday evening, Fudge did not comment to reporters on Capitol Hill as to whether she was offered the position to lead HUD.

“I can’t give you a comment. Let me just say that, if I were to be named, certainly it’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to be a president’s cabinet,” she said.

When asked about the House’s slim majority if she leaves to join the administration, Fudge noted that her seat is a “safe district” for Democrats.

“Whoever would come here would be part of this team as well, so that gives me some comfort,” Fudge told reporters Tuesday. “I just have to hope that we can hold together long enough to make sure that something like that would happen if I should leave.”

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Fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as civil rights and Black women’s groups, have lobbied for weeks to have Biden select Fudge for Secretary of Agriculture. Fudge is the head of the House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Oversight as part of her service on the House Agriculture Committee.

But several senior caucus members, including Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said she could fill any post.

“She has demonstrated on the local level as well as in Congress that she is up for the task,’’ Thompson, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security and a Fudge ally, told USA TODAY last week. “I can see no better person in a cabinet position than Marcia Fudge.”

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Thompson rattled off agencies he said thought Fudge could lead, including the Department of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce and the FDA.

“She’s a very talented person,’’ he said. “This administration could really benefit’’ from her experience.

Clyburn during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday said Fudge would indeed be part of Biden’s cabinet, but warned it might not be as Agriculture Secretary.

“Look for her to be in the Cabinet,” Clyburn said. “It may not be at (the Department of) Agriculture but she will be nominated to be in the Cabinet.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, talked about her plans for a House subcommittee on elections in her office Jan. 11, 2018.
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, talked about her plans for a House subcommittee on elections in her office Jan. 11, 2018.

In a recent interview with USA TODAY, Fudge noted she would take the ag secretary position if offered.

She noted she had been involved in the agriculture space for at least 10 years. She said she was particularly concerned about more support for food nutrition programs for needy families.

“There is so much hunger right now in this country,” she said.

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Fudge, chairwoman of the House subcommittee on elections, has also long been an advocate for voting rights. She’s held hearings across the country to address voter suppression and other election concerns.

“I’m always going to be interested in making sure that every single citizen of this country has a right to vote, that is not impeded in any way,’’ she said. “I am a strong proponent of what the Constitution basically calls the unfettered unabridged right to vote.”

Civil rights leaders who met with Biden before the Fudge nomination was announced said Tuesday she would make an excellent secretary of HUD, and she could have run other departments, too.

Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, said Fudge had experience as a mayor and understood the needs for urban development.

“Congresswoman Fudge is more than exceptionally prepared for several positions,” Campbell said. “I think she will be an exceptional secretary of HUD, as she would have been as agriculture or any other position.”

Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, welcomed Fudge as a dynamic leader and experienced policymaker.

“HUD, like Justice, needs to be risen from a deep sleep,” Morial said. “We have a housing crisis in America.”

Fudge will be the third woman to lead HUD. The first was Carla Hills, followed by Patricia Roberts Harris, who was the first Black woman to serve in the position.

“The agency needs a dose of energy, a dose of direction and someone with the gravitas to make it a real player in domestic policy in this country,” Morial said.

Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, said Fudge had proven herself a leader as head of the Congressional Black Caucus and as head of an Agriculture subcommittee on nutrition. But Johnson said previous functions of the department, such as opportunity zones, that moved to other departments under the Trump administration, must be returned to HUD for her to be successful.

“No matter where she landed in this administration, she will serve with distinction because she’s an excellent leader,” Johnson said.

Biden has committed to nominating candidates of diverse backgrounds to his Cabinet, which was reflected in several of his early announcements, such as tapping Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American, to become the first Latino head of the Department of Homeland Security; Janet Yellen as the first woman to head the Treasury; Avril Haines as the first female director of national intelligence and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, as his ambassador to the United Nations. And he appointed an all-female communications staff.

On Monday, it was reported that Biden was nominating retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to run the Pentagon. If confirmed, he would be the nation’s first Black defense secretary.

Contributing: Bart Jansen and William Cummings

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden to nominate Marcia Fudge as Housing Urban Development Secretary



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