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Biden to tap Fudge to lead Department of Housing and Urban Development: reports

Biden to tap Fudge to lead Department of Housing and Urban Development: reports
© Greg Nash

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE is set to nominate Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeThis week: Senate stuck in limbo On The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear MORE (D-Ohio) to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Fudge is the second Black nominee to be selected this week, with Biden also tapping retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to be his Defense secretary. Fudge and her allies had pressed the Biden transition to select her to lead the Department of Agriculture, though Bloomberg, Politico and others reported she'll be picked to oversee HUD.

When asked by reporters about the role leading the housing agency, Fudge declined to say if she's been offered the spot, but she said she's been in contact with the transition team — including with Biden himself — and hinted strongly that she's headed to HUD.

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"If I were to be named," she said laughing, "certainly it's an honor and a privilege to be asked to be in a president's Cabinet. It is something that probably in my wildest dreams I never would have thought about. And so if I can help this president in any way possible, I'm more than happy to do it. It's a great honor and a privilege to be a part of something so good."

The Biden transition declined to comment, and a spokesperson for Fudge said they did not have any information on the possible nomination.

A source familiar with the president-elect's thinking told The Hill that Biden has "long respected Congresswoman Fudge's decades of public service and how she has been a leading voice for working families in Congress, as a past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and as the former Mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio."

The source also noted Biden's appreciation for Fudge's role as "a longtime champion of affordable housing, urban revitalization, and infrastructure investments."

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the No. 3 House Democrat and a top Biden ally, expressed confidence earlier Tuesday that Fudge would land a spot in the incoming administration.

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“Look for her to be in the Cabinet,” Clyburn said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." “It may not be at Agriculture, but she will be nominated to be in the Cabinet.”

“Congresswoman Fudge is more than exceptionally prepared for several positions. ... She was also a mayor of an urban city in Cleveland, Ohio, so she comes with that knowledge,” Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, added during a press call with other civil rights leaders who had all met with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisInaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models Overnight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP senator retires MORE on Tuesday afternoon.

"Housing and Urban Development is really, really a critical component in our community. I think she will be an exceptional secretary of HUD, as she would have been for Agriculture or any other position," Campbell added.

At the helm of HUD, Fudge would play a key role in combating the coronavirus pandemic amid a focus on those struggling to pay rent and mortgage installations. Millions of renters face eviction amid the virus’s financial fallout, and the administration is expected to push for a relief package that includes rent relief. 

Fudge has been a member of Congress since 2008, and should she be confirmed to lead HUD, a special election would be held in her deep-blue Cleveland-area House district. Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D), a favorite among progressives, is reportedly considering a run for the seat.

Marty Johnson contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:11 p.m.