Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the incoming ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, today questioned President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio 11th), about her past comments on Republicans.
During his opening remarks, Senator Toomey said:
“A few short months ago in September 2020, you slammed the efforts of all Republican senators to fill the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat. You said: ‘Those who are bent on choosing her successor have no decency. They have no honor. They have no integrity.’ And you went on to say, and I quote, ‘they are a disgrace to this nation.’
“So Congresswoman, it is one thing to have strongly held views and disagreements, but I am troubled by this and several other statements because, in my mind, about your willingness and ability to work with Republicans on the many important issues that will require bipartisan cooperation.”
Senator Toomey’s full opening remarks are below. You can watch the hearing here.
“I want to thank Chairman Crapo for his service. I want to thank him for his leadership of this committee. In my view, Senator Crapo set a terrific example for all of us, an example of how to use civil debate and treat each other with respect. I think Senator Crapo has a lot of work he can be proud of during his tenure as chairman, the work he did on the CARES Act in particular, as the economy was in dire straits last March, to the bipartisan S.2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. And I want to thank Chairman Crapo, and I think I speak for many members of the committee in saying we’re looking forward to his work as the ranking member of the Finance Committee.
“I also want to say a quick word expressing my appreciation for Senator Brown. We find ourselves, of course, in this somewhat awkward position where we have an even split in the Senate, and we, at the moment, have a split on the committee itself. As I mentioned, I am fully aware that very soon, Senator Brown will be chairman of the committee. I’d like to point out, I feel like we’ve made the best of the circumstances we’re in. We’ve made progress on the process by which we process nominees, we’ve made progress on processing the nominations themselves, we’ve made progress on the budgeting for the committee and how we’ll allocate resources. So I appreciate that, and I appreciate the fact that in the past, Senator Brown and I have had a constructive working relationship, whether it’s working on things like the opioid crisis, the threat of Asian Carps to the Great Lakes that we share, and a number of national security threats as well. So I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Senator Brown in what will soon be his new role.
“And as for my opening statement, let me begin by thanking both nominees for their appearance today, and more importantly their willingness to serve. Dean Cecelia Rouse has had a distinguished in academia and government. She’s very well-qualified for the post for which she’s been nominated. She has a wealth of expertise in economic research and policy, and previous experience on the Council of Economic Advisors. She has multiple degrees from Harvard University, and is the current dean at the Princeton School of Public International Affairs, and many, many awards and achievements throughout her distinguished career. I will say, I am particularly pleased, and I admire, her advocacy for freedom of speech and diversity of points of view. I think that’s an important principle. In 2017, Dr. Rouse wrote, and I quote, ‘I strongly believe, however, that diversity cannot be viewed solely along demographic lines. While we do not always think of diversity in terms of thought or political orientation, we should. It is critical that in our classrooms, boardrooms, and halls of government, people who have different ideological viewpoints interact and work together to debate the important issues of our day.’ I think that’s a very constructive and much needed sentiment, especially on college campuses.
“Now in the spirit of that quote I want to recognize that I think I’m going to disagree with Dr. Rouse far more often than I agree with respect to individual policies prescriptions. But, I think she’s someone I can work with, I hope that if she is confirmed she’ll bring a thoughtful, reasoned, perspective and in particular, a willingness to underscore that most policies have intended and unintended consequences. There are costs as well as benefits, and the entirety of the likely outcome should be evaluated.
“Congresswoman Fudge, I want to thank you for your long career in public service and your commitment to community. I appreciate and enjoyed our conversation on Tuesday. But in light of President Biden’s repeated calls of unity, and pledges to keep ad hominem personal attacks out of political discourse, I do think it’s important we do 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.’
“I will say I am particularly troubled by a number of statements you have made, Representative Fudge, attacking and disparaging the integrity and motives of Republican officials with whom you have policy disagreements. A few short months ago in September of 2020, you slammed Senate Republican efforts to fill the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat and you said, and I quote, “those who are bent on choosing her successor have no decency. They have no honor. They have no integrity,” and you went on to say, and I quote, “they are a disgrace to this nation.”
“So Congresswoman, it is one thing to have strongly held views and disagreements, but I’m troubled by this and several other statements because in my mind they raise questions about your willingness and ability to work with Republicans if this is your opinion of Republicans.
“Now one such categories where we need to be able to work together is how you as HUD Secretary will implement housing policies that effect millions of Americans. I hope to learn this morning more about how you will address HUD’s regulations on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing or AFFH. I hope you will avoid returning to the costly Obama era rule that forced cities to hire expensive consultants and complete lengthy plans that could stretch as long as 800 pages. In my view, now is not the time to impose new, unfunded mandates on these communities which will inevitably drain resources that could be used to support affordable housing and other priorities.
“I also believe that it’s local communities that should be in the driver’s seat making decisions for their communities, rather than Washington. I also want to learn how you will address HUD’s disparate impact regulations. Under the Obama-era disparate impact rule, it seemed that often defendants were guilty until proven innocent. And this turned some housing providers away from providing affordable housing because of the risk of protracted litigation. I hope that any new rule that comes from HUD allows claims of discrimination to proceed when they’re legitimate and frees housing providers to focus on their mission. It’s also important that any such new rule be consistent with the Supreme Court decision in inclusive communities.
“Finally, let me just make clear how I think about an important issue that we’re going to be wrestling with in Congress and it’s the jurisdiction of this committee. And that is the question of whether there should be a longer eviction moratorium in light of and in the context of the assistance that’s already been provided. As a brief reminder, last year we were in a full blown financial crisis, a full blown economic crisis and we appropriated several trillion; everyone on this committee voted in favor; everyone, I think, in the Senate voted in favor of several trillion dollars to replace lost income for millions of individuals and businesses. In March, Congress authorized literally hundreds of billions of dollars in direct assistance to individuals in the form of stimulus checks, increased food stamps, extending unemployment eligibility, enhanced unemployment benefits. We all voted for that.
“Just last month, we did it all over again. Signs are now pointing towards a robust recovery that is underway. It’s not complete, but it’s underway. The economy grew at 33% in the third quarter. Household balance sheets are extremely strong. Personal savings rate is at an all-time record high and unemployment has dramatically improved from a peak of almost 15% to below 7% now. Just a few weeks ago, we passed another $900 billion bill. And included in that, Congress made $25 billion available exclusively for emergency rental assistance. That money hasn’t been fully distributed yet. Now, we’re being told we need to do even more right away.
“My view is if after all of this historic spending, there are people who have fallen through the cracks, people who have not gotten the assistance they need, then by all means, let’s have a conversation about those folks who are in those circumstances. But I think anything we do now should be narrowly targeted to the people that actually need the help, rather than universal spending programs that inevitably will spend a huge amount of money on people who never experienced any economic hardship.
“I look forward to the testimony of each of our witnesses and at this time, I recognize Senator Brown for his opening statement.”