‘There is no better choice’: Raimondo appears before Senate Commerce Committee for confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo went before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday morning for her confirmation hearing as President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce.

The hearing began at 10 a.m. and lasted around two and a half hours. Raimondo was introduced by Rhode Island senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, who both gave her glowing reviews.

“There is no better choice for the secretary of commerce at this time than Governor Gina Raimondo,” said Senator Reed.

Raimondo joined the hearing virtually from Rhode Island. Most senators were in attendance in Washington, but a few also joined virtually.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has nearly 50,000 employees and oversees many agencies, but the biggest are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Census Bureau.

“First, we need to immediately address the economic damage caused by the pandemic. Second, we need to make sure that American workers and manufacturers can compete fairly on the global playing field,” said Raimondo, outlining her biggest focuses if confirmed as secretary. “And third, we need to recognize that tackling climate change is a pressing priority, but goes hand-in-hand with creating good-paying jobs.”

The questioning was mostly friendly, with senators pressing Raimondo on what she’ll do in the position and asking her to commit to the issues they most care about.

Issues ranged from bringing the economy back from the damage done by the pandemic, to maritime issues and the census. One of the biggest topics of discussion was unemployment.

“I am deeply committed to making sure that all Americans in every community have an opportunity to have the skills they need to get a good job,” Raimondo said.

Unemployment was an area where not every senator praised the governor. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) mentioned the CNBC ranking of states that are best for business. Rhode Island finished last.

“What reassurances can you give the American people that your performance at Commerce would be better than the state of Rhode Island has done in terms of creating an environment where jobs are plentiful?”

Raimondo fired back, defending her record while leading the Ocean State.

“We have created thousands of jobs for the people of Rhode Island, and I would look forward to fighting for the American worker should I be confirmed.”

The confirmation hearing is the first step in the process. The committee will next vote to send her nomination to the floor, then comes the official floor vote.

A date for that has not been set, but it’s been said it could happen as soon as next week.

Raimondo’s final State of the State address is set for February 3.

© WLNE-TV 2021

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