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senate: Biden’s Commerce department pick stresses investment in COVID-19 recovery

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Washington: President Joe Biden‘s pick to oversee the Commerce Department says investments across the country are needed to provide Americans with a pathway to a good job as the nation recovers from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday during a confirmation hearing. If confirmed, she would be responsible for promoting opportunities for economic growth domestically and overseas.

“If confirmed as Commerce secretary, I look forward to scaling and deploying additional resources to businesses and workers — with a focus on regions and communities that have often been left behind — to help them bounce back and grow stronger than ever,” Raimondo said in her prepared remarks.

Raimondo was elected governor in 2014 and won reelection in 2018. She’s expected to handily win a confirmation vote, but it’s unclear when that vote will occur. Nominations pertaining to national security generally take precedent. The vote may also have to wait on President Donald Trump‘s impeachment trial, which will dominate the Senate’s attention starting the week of Feb. 8.

Raimondo, 49, is the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island. She is a Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Yale Law School who recalls her father losing his job at a Bulova watch factory in Providence to connect with those worried about jobs in the U.S. being moved to other countries.

She will tell the panel the country needs to invest in technology and aggressively combat unfair trade practices from China and other counties, a topic that the previous administration seized upon to gain support in communities that have seen extensive manufacturing job losses in recent decades.

She will also emphasize tackling climate change, saying that as governor she oversaw construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

“Like President Biden, I know the climate crisis poses an existential threat to our economic security, and we must meet this challenge by creating millions of good, union jobs that power a more sustainable economy,” Raimondo said in her prepared remarks.

The Commerce Department is comprised of a dozen separate bureaus and agencies, ranging from the National Weather Service to the U.S. Census Bureau to the Minority Business Development Agency. If confirmed, she’ll oversee the work of more than 40,000 employees.

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