Marcia Fudge, Michael Regan, and Merrick Garland
Marcia Fudge (Shutterstock); Michael Regan (Brandon Bell/Shutterstock); and Merrick Garland (KEVIN DIETSCH/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Senate Confirms Trio of Historic Appointments: Marcia Fudge, Michael Regan and Merrick Garland

In a busy day of historic firsts on the Capitol yesterday, March 10, the Senate confirmed President Biden’s selections for housing secretary, chief of the environmental protection agency and attorney general. 

Veteran lawmaker and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge has been approved as the new head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

In addition to a long history representing parts of Cleveland and Akron in the House since 2008, Mary Clare Jalonick and Matthew Daly of the Associated Press reported that Fudge is also a former lawyer and “longtime advocate for assistance for the needy.”

“She said at her confirmation hearing in January that her first priority would be protecting the millions of people who have fallen behind on rent or mortgages due to loss of income during the pandemic, telling senators that ‘we cannot afford to allow people in the midst of a pandemic to be put in the streets,’” reported Jalonick and Daly.

Following the passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, Fudge’s appointment comes at a crucial time. She will be leading the housing agency and helping to implement many of the new benefits created for renters and homeowners who have suffered economic losses amid the coronavirus pandemic. She will be the first Black woman to lead HUD in more than 40 years.

In addition to Housing Secretary, the Senate also confirmed Michael Regan to lead the EPA. Alex Guillen at Politico reported that Regan “spent four years as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, where his record of fixing environmental problems faced by low-income residents and communities of color drew national attention.”

Among the many tasks now on Regan’s plate: helping to restore climate and water pollution regulations that had been severely weakened over the past four years by the Trump administration.

Ahead of the vote for his confirmation, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, chair of the Senate Environment Committee, said “Michael Regan is the kind of person who can help unite us in common purpose as we respond to the climate crisis we face, as well as to clean our air, clean our water and strive to make sure that we don’t leave some of our communities, some of our neighbors behind in our efforts to do so.” 

Like Fudge, Regan was confirmed by a 66-34 vote, with 16 Republicans joining the Senate’s 50 Democrats in his support. “He will be the first Black man to run the EPA, and the second African-American person to do so after Obama’s first-term administrator Lisa Jackson,” said Guillen.

 

Finally, the Senate also confirmed Merrick Garland as the U.S. Attorney General. 

“The bipartisan vote came almost five years to the day since President Barack Obama nominated Garland for the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia,” said Dareh Gregorian of NBC News. “The Senate, controlled by Republicans and led by [Mitch] McConnell at the time, refused to consider his nomination, and the seat was filled by Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Donald Trump.”

Garland has been a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for more than two decades and is a longtime veteran of the Justice Department, having previously supervised numerous domestic terrorism cases including prosecutions related to the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995.

“America can breathe a sigh of relief that we’re finally going to have someone like Merrick Garland leading the Justice Department, someone with integrity, independence, respect for the rule of law and credibility on both sides of the aisle,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York before the vote. “He understands that the job of the attorney general is one to protect the rule of law, unlike the previous attorneys general under President Trump.”

Garland was confirmed by a 70-30 vote, with Republicans including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John Cornyn of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voting in his favor.

According to Gregorian, “when his nomination was announced in January, Garland said he would strive to make sure that ‘like cases are treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans, one rule for friends, the other for foes.’”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

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