Biden makes Fudge, Vilsack, Tai nominations official

Greg Nash

President-elect Joe Biden made a number of nominations official on Thursday as he begins broadening his incoming administration.

Biden’s transition officially announced it is tapping Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Tom Vilsack to reprise his role as Agriculture secretary and Katherine Tai to serve as U.S. trade representative.

The nominations had been reported earlier this week, but had not been made official until Thursday morning.

The Biden transition also announced that it is tapping former Obama White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to serve as the Veterans Affairs secretary and former national security adviser Susan Rice to serve as the director of the Domestic Policy Council.

“This dedicated and distinguished group of public servants will bring the highest level of experience, compassion, and integrity to bear, solving problems and expanding possibilities for the American people in the face of steep challenges. The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” said Biden.

Fudge’s nomination comes after a campaign by allies in Congress to appoint her to a Cabinet position. Many focused on the Agriculture secretary posting, though the transition team ultimately chose her to head HUD.

A source familiar with Biden’s thinking told The Hill earlier this week that the president-elect 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.”

HUD will play a key role in combating the coronavirus pandemic, given the spiking number of people struggling to make rent and mortgage payments. Millions of renters face eviction amid the virus’s financial fallout, and the administration is expected to push for an aid package that includes rent relief.

Vilsack, a former two-term Iowa governor who helmed the Agriculture Department for all eight years of the Obama administration, has strong ties to Biden. He will likely focus on tacking a hunger crisis that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as efforts to bolster the economy and health infrastructure in rural areas and improving rural broadband.

“With a heightened hunger crisis, farmers reeling, and rural communities struggling to weather the pain and economic fallout of the pandemic, the President-Elect is looking for someone with experience and bold thinking to deliver immediate relief for families all across the country. No one fits that description better than Tom Vilsack since he knows the department better than anyone,” said the source familiar with the president-elect’s thinking.

Tai is currently the House Ways and Means Committee chief trade lawyer and, should she be confirmed, would be tasked with enforcing U.S. trade policies and negotiating new trading terms with China and other foreign powers. The role is a Cabinet-level position, and Tai would be the first Asian American and woman of color hold the job.

Tai has had extensive experience working on trade relations with China and speaks fluent Mandarin.

Tags Biden cabinet Biden transition Denis McDonough Housing and Urban Development Joe Biden Katherine Tai Marcia Fudge Tom Vilsack United States Department of Agriculture

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