Senate panel advances Biden's picks for Housing secretary, chief economist

Senate panel advances Biden's picks for Housing secretary, chief economist
© Getty Images

The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday advanced President Biden’s nominees to serve as the chief White House economist and secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The panel unanimously approved Cecilia RouseCecilia RouseThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Sunday shows - Infrastructure in the spotlight Biden economic adviser: 'It's important we upgrade our definition of infrastructure' MORE’s nomination to be chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and advanced the nomination of Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeNina Turner touts herself as 'coalition builder' in House bid Nina Turner raises .6 million in first quarter for Ohio congressional bid The Hill's Morning Report - Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan MORE (D-Ohio) to lead HUD by a vote of 17-7. All 12 of the panel’s Democrats and five Republicans voted to approve Fudge.

If confirmed by the Senate, Rouse and Fudge will play integral roles in Biden’s efforts to repair the damage of the coronavirus recession while pushing for a strong and equitable recovery.


“Rep. Fudge and Dr. Rouse will bring expertise and empathy to these jobs. And these two Black women, with deep ties to Ohio and the industrial heartland, will bring important perspective and life experience to the management of our economy – perspective that has been sorely lacking,” said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Former Ohio health director won't run for Senate MORE (D-Ohio), chairman of the Banking Committee.

Fudge would lead HUD’s efforts to prevent millions of families currently protected under federal foreclosure and eviction bans from homelessness once those protections expire. She would also run point on the Biden administration’s efforts to expand affordable housing, fight housing discrimination and improve the nation’s public housing supply.

Rouse would serve as Biden’s chief economist, advising the president on how best to achieve his goals of bringing the U.S. back to its pre-pandemic economic strength and narrowing racial and ethnic economic disparities. She would also be the first Black woman to lead the CEA.

Rouse most recently served as dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and extensively studied the economics of education during her academic career. She was a member of former President Obama’s CEA and received wide bipartisan praise throughout her confirmation process.

“I have no doubt that I'm going to disagree with Dean Rouse on policy matters far more often than I will agree with her. But I recognize and appreciate that she has a history of listening to and respectfully working with people of differing viewpoints,” said Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), the top Republican on the Banking panel.


“I believe her record is consistent with President Biden's calls for unity and pledges to keep personal attacks out of political discourse," he added.

Toomey, however, did not share the same praise for Fudge. He and several Republicans pressed Fudge during her hearing on past comments condemning the GOP for quickly filling the Supreme Court seat of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgProgressives give Biden's court reform panel mixed reviews Biden will let Breyer decide when to retire, aide says Biden establishes commission to study expanding Supreme Court MORE and questioned whether Republicans “care[d] about people of color.”

Fudge touted her bipartisanship and insisted during her confirmation hearing that she would be able to work with Republicans as HUD secretary. But Toomey said Thursday that Fudge’s previous comments and lack of experience with housing policy were too much for him to overlook.

Fudge remains on track for confirmation despite the handful of GOP objections she received Thursday. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottPassage of FASTER Act is critical for food allergy community 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer MORE (R-S.C.), who voted for her nomination, said that while he found Fudge’s comments “objectionable,” he believes she’s “quite intelligent, motivated, and tenacious.”

“One of the things I continue to encourage her to do is to have an open door towards the Republicans on this committee and through Congress, because it's going to be very important for this nation to see Congress working together, especially when we disagree on the underlying issues,” Scott said.