WASHINGTON — Media reports on Tuesday night said President-elect Joe Biden will nominate U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio to be his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to be secretary of Agriculture.
This would be a second stint as Agriculture secretary for Vilsack, a Democrat who also served in that post for eight years in the Obama administration. Previously he served two terms as governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as mayor of Mt. Pleasant.
Biden did not answer questions about his Cabinet picks from pool reporters on Tuesday night while exiting a meeting with civil rights leaders.
Fudge, during a short gaggle with reporters on Capitol Hill, said that she has not been offered the position in Biden’s Cabinet, but said she would accept the offer.
“Let me just say that if I were to be picked, certainly it’s an honor and a privilege to be asked to be in the president’s Cabinet,” she said, according to pool reports. “It is something that probably in my wildest dreams I never would have thought about.”
If confirmed, Fudge, 68, also a Democrat, would be the second Black woman to run the department, which has a budget of $50 billion and is tasked with enforcing fair housing laws, providing rental assistance and low-income housing.
Fudge, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, was also considered to lead the Department of Agriculture, according to media reports.
She’ll enter a housing crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Brookings Institution, a think tank, has found that before the pandemic, about 15 percent of households reported being housing insecure and during the pandemic, 1 in 3 Americans were not able to pay rent. Another think tank, the Aspen Institute, found that 30 to 40 million Americans are at risk of eviction due to the pandemic.
Fudge first came to the House in 2008 after winning a special election and holds a solid Democratic seat in Cleveland. She won 80 percent of votes in her re-election race this year against her Republican opponent Laverne Gore, according to The Associated Press.