Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Gina Raimondo speaks while gesturing

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Between the lines: Republican objections to her nomination included her non-committal stance about keeping Huawei on the Commerce Department's "entity list," which blocks U.S. companies from providing the Chinese telecom giant with chips, software, and other components due to national security concerns.

  • Raimondo told the Senate Commerce Committee during her confirmation hearing that she would consult Congress and "review the policy."
  • She later said in written answers to the committee: "I currently have no reason to believe that entities on those lists should not be there."

Background: Raimondo, 49, is a former chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association and Rhodes scholar who co-founded a venture capital firm in Rhode Island earlier in her career.

  • She clashed with unions as she worked to reform Rhode Island’s public employee pension plans and served as a national co-chair for Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign before endorsing Biden, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.
  • Raimondo is Biden's 12th Cabinet nominee to be confirmed by the Senate. She will resign as Rhode Island governor this week, paving the way for Lt. Gov. Daniel J. McKee to replace her for the remaining two years of the term.
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