March 10, 2021

Toomey: Fudge Lacks Temperament, Bipartisanship and Experience Necessary to Serve as HUD Secretary

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the nomination of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) to serve as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Citing both her history of attacking and disparaging Republican colleagues and her lack of experience in and knowledge of housing policies, Senator Toomey raised serious concerns over Congresswoman Fudge’s nomination.

Ranking Member Toomey’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today to oppose the nomination of Representative Fudge to serve as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The confirmation of Cabinet secretaries is one of the most important constitutional functions of the U.S. Senate.

As I think many here would agree, Cabinet officials should be relied upon to coordinate and work productively with Congress as they implement policies.

I’m concerned that Representative Fudge’s past rhetoric makes clear that she lacks the temperament to collaborate with Congress, particularly across the aisle, and casts doubt as to whether she wants to.

Congresswoman Fudge has made multiple statements through the years attacking and disparaging the integrity and motives of Republicans with whom she has policy disagreements.

In September 2020, during a speech on the House floor, Congresswoman Fudge attacked efforts to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

In her speech, she said, among other insults, that Senate Republicans had “no decency,” “no honor,” “no integrity,” and “are a disgrace to this Nation.”

In June 2020, during a virtual town hall, Congresswoman Fudge admitted believing that Republicans did not care about minorities.

She said that if Republicans “want to save face and let this country know that they care even a little bit about people of color—which I don’t believe they do—but if they want to try, I want to listen.”

And back in a January 2013 PBS forum with Tavis Smiley, Congresswoman Fudge harshly questioned the motives and character of Republicans who supported cuts to food stamps.

She stated that “if we continue to send people to Congress who don’t even understand what their job is – who don’t understand that government’s job is to take care of its people – then we are never going anywhere as a country because we deal with nuts every single day. These people are evil and mean. They care nothing about anybody but themselves. And so if you think you going to have something bipartisan you need to think again. It’s not happening.”

Overtly partisan statements have a toxic and detrimental impact on the working relationship between members of Congress and the Administration.

The Senate must only confirm officials who will cooperate with legislators, especially now that we have an unprecedented amount of welfare and entitlements being funneled through the federal government under this $2T spending bill.

This is especially true for HUD.

In addition to her recent statements impugning the integrity and motives of Republicans, Congresswoman Fudge has little to no housing experience.

Except for her service as a small town mayor, Congresswoman Fudge never worked in a capacity where she would be familiar with any of HUD’s many programs.

Even traditionally liberal media outlets criticized Congresswoman Fudge’s nomination for HUD Secretary on the grounds that she lacked experience in and knowledge of housing policy.

She did not show an interest in developing housing policy expertise as a member of Congress, introducing or cosponsoring very few housing bills, and choosing instead to serve on unrelated committees

I acknowledge that not all cabinet nominees are experts in the policy areas that their agencies cover.

But when they’re not, it makes their temperament, policy views, and their willingness to listen to members of the other party all the more relevant.

Congresswoman Fudge’s views, as reflected in her responses to questions for the record, are concerning.

When asked whether HUD should better target its programs so they’re helping low-income Americans, she responded, ‘The challenge for HUD programs isn’t that they aren’t targeted, it is that funding levels are inadequate to meet the need.’

But in just ten years, HUD’s discretionary spending grew nearly 20%. This does not include over $15 billion for COVID assistance that the Senate appropriated and voted on. It also excludes the more than $56 billion for housing assistance passed in the December Omnibus and the reconciliation bill.

The Congresswoman’s answer ignores the fact that HUD programs certainly can be better targeted to help those in need.

For instance, currently, families with disqualifying, high incomes participate in HUD-assisted rental programs, making them unavailable to lower income families. And FHA insures mortgages for homebuyers who could access mortgage credit through private capital.

I worry that Congresswoman Fudge’s approach will be to simply ask Congress for more money for HUD without working with Republicans and Democrats to reform it.

Such reform is necessary to ensure HUD programs are improved so they better serve low-income Americans in need.

For these reasons, I cannot support Congresswoman Fudge’s nomination.