The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gina Raimondo, the current Rhode Island governor and former venture capitalist, as the next Secretary of Commerce. Her nomination was accepted with 85 to 15 votes.
Ms. Raimondo, a moderate Democrat with a background in the financial industry, is expected to use her private and public sector experience to oversee an extensive bureaucracy responsible for both promoting and regulating American business .
Under Ms. Raimondo, the Commerce Department is likely to play a pivotal role in several of Mr. Biden’s political endeavors, including boosting the American economy, building rural broadband and other infrastructures, and leading American technology competition with China. The department also conducts the census, monitors American fisheries, weather monitoring, telecommunications standards, and economic data collection, among other things.
Maria Cantwell, a Democratic Senator from Washington, said she thought Ms. Raimondo’s experience in the private sector would help her attract new investments and create jobs, and that she “would count on Governor Raimondo to help us with our export economy “.
Ms. Cantwell also said she believed Ms. Raimondo would be a departure from Wilbur Ross, President Donald J. Trump’s trade secretary. “I think he and the president spent a lot more time shaking their fists with the global community than they were looking at guidelines that would really help the markets and help us get our products in the door.”
A graduate of Yale University and Oxford University, Ms. Raimondo was a founding associate at Village Ventures, a Bain Capital-backed investment firm. She co-founded her own venture capital firm, Point Judith Capital, before being elected treasurer and then governor of Rhode Island.
As the state’s first female governor, she was known for adopting a centrist agenda that included training programs, fewer regulations, and reduced taxes for businesses. She also led a restructuring of the state pension programs, clashing with the unions in the process.
Ms. Raimondo was criticized by some Republicans in her January nomination hearing for refusing to maintain certain restrictions on exports that could be sent to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.
Under Trump, the Commerce Department played an oversized role in trade policy, imposing tariffs on imported aluminum and steel for national security reasons, investigating additional tariffs on automobiles, and restricting various technologies for technology exports to China.
Ms. Raimondo and other Biden administrators have not clarified whether they will maintain or lift these restrictions and stated that they will first conduct a full review of their impact.