Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is President-elect Biden’s pick to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, two people familiar with the decision told CBS News. Mr. Biden has also chosen Tom Vilsack as his agriculture secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision.
If confirmed, Fudge, who represents parts of Cleveland and Akron and is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, would be the second Black woman to lead the department. Patricia Roberts Harris held the job under Jimmy Carter, becoming the first Black woman to be a member of the United States Cabinet.
The CBC approved of the pick, saying in a statement, “We applaud President-elect Biden on this historic nomination and look forward to working collaboratively with his administration to provide relief to families in need.”
“Fudge led the charge to defend hungry families across the country from cruel and unnecessary cuts to SNAP and other vital programs and services,” the CBC added. “We are relieved knowing that the same determination she brought to those battles will be brought to tackle one of the biggest looming threats facing Americans during this economic crisis: evictions and housing insecurity.”
Fudge is a close personal friend of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who is widely credited with reviving Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign with an 11th-hour endorsement before the South Carolina primary last February. In the months since, he has served as a counselor to the president-elect and was pushing hard to ensure his friend Fudge secured a senior role in the new administration. 
The formal announcement is expected later this week. Biden-Harris transition aides didn’t immediately return requests for comment. 
Fudge currently serves on the Committee on House Administration, House Committee on Agriculture and House Committee on Education and Labor. 
Her departure from Congress would mean a special election in Ohio’s 11th District. Fudge has represented that district since 2008. 
If Vilsack is confirmed as the Secretary of Agriculture, the 69-year old would return to a job he held for the entirety of President Obama’s administration.
Vilsack was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate back in 2017. A person familiar with the transition process, who asked for anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said Mr. Biden will argue that amid an unprecedented hunger crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and a severe economic downturn for the nation’s farmers, the department responsible for distributing tens of billions of dollars in federal food aid and overseeing farming policy quickly needs an experienced leader installed.
Vilsack is a former Iowa governor and once ran unsuccessfully for president himself. He supported Mr. Biden’s presidential bid and continued campaigning for the former vice president even once it was apparent his former Obama-era colleague would lose the Iowa caucuses.