Senate confirms Biden Commerce secretary pick Gina Raimondo
The Senate confirmed Gina Raimondo as Commerce secretary on Tuesday in a broad bipartisan vote despite early GOP efforts to block her nomination.
Raimondo, who has served as governor of Rhode Island since 2015, was confirmed in an 84-15 vote.
As nominee, she faced pushback from Republicans over her comments about keeping Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had placed a hold on her nomination, requiring an extra vote on Monday to end debate.
Cruz spoke from the Senate floor earlier Tuesday urging his colleagues to join him in voting against Raimondo’s nomination over her comments on Huawei.
Huawei was placed on the entity list, which effectively blacklists the company, by the Trump administration over concerns it posed an espionage threat due to ties to the Chinese government.
During her confirmation hearing, Raimondo said she would review the policy and consult with lawmakers, allies and industry experts, but she did not specifically commit to keeping the company on the list.
Don Morrissey, Huawei’s head of congressional, state and local government affairs, told The Hill last week that removing Huawei from the blacklist would not solely be up to the secretary’s discretion.
He pointed to a clause in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that requires the Commerce Department to present evidence to Congress that the company is no longer a security threat before it can be taken off the entity list.
In addition to the debate over Huawei, Raimondo faced questions during her confirmation hearing about reforming a hotly debated law that provides tech companies a legal liability shield for third-party content posted on their platforms.
The law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has come under fire from both sides of the aisle.
Raimondo told senators the law needs “some reform” but stopped short of calling for it to be repealed.