WASHINGTON, D.C. — With her close family members seated behind her at Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland Democrat Marcia Fudge virtually made her case Thursday for why she should be confirmed to serve in President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

What You Need To Know

  • Fudge testified before Senate committee on Thursday

  • Republicans questioned her past criticisms of the GOP

  • Democrats confident Fudge will lead housing agency in right direction

“We need to make the dream of homeownership a reality — and the security and wealth creation that comes with it,” Fudge, who currently represents Ohio’s 11th District in Congress, told senators tuning in from Washington.

Fudge would become the first woman in more than 40 years to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the second-ever Black woman.

She testified alongside Dr. Cecilia Rouse, who’s been nominated to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers and has roots in Youngstown.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the incoming chair of the Senate Banking and Housing Committee that held the hearing, said it will be significant if both Black women get confirmed to lead economic recovery efforts.

“It matters because of the perspective and the life experiences these two women, these two Black women, bring to these jobs,” Brown said.

Fudge spent much of the hearing answering policy-related questions as to how she will run the $50 billion agency.

She said more federal housing assistance will be needed as the pandemic continues, and discussed everything from expanding affordable housing to helping Native Americans secure a roof over their heads.

Fudge also received a bipartisan boost from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who joined the hearing to endorse her.

“I don’t always agree with Marcia on policy, she certainly doesn’t always agree with me, but I can speak to her integrity, her commitment to justice, and the strength of her character,” Portman said.

But some senators took issue with comments Fudge has made as a congresswoman about Republicans.

“I do think it’s important we look at some of your past rhetoric, just as we should for all nominees before this committee, to understand whether your rhetoric matches President Biden’s call for ‘bringing Americans together,’” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said.

They cited a floor speech Fudge gave last fall where she called Republicans trying to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat “a disgrace to the nation,” and comments she made in a police reform town hall last June where she implied she didn’t believe Republicans “care even a little bit about people of color.”

“Yes, I do listen to my constituents and sometimes I am a little passionate about things. Is my tone pitch perfect all the time? It is not,” Fudge said. “But I do know this that I have the ability and the capacity to work with Republicans and I intend to do just that and that is my commitment to you.”

Fudge also spoke at length about her time as mayor of Warrensville Heights and how it helped teach her about affordable housing policy.

Sen. Brown said he’s confident Fudge will be easily confirmed by the Senate in the coming days.