LA Mayor Karen Bass Endorses Rep. Barbara Lee for U.S. Housing Secretary

Elgin Nelson

In a recent interview, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass has called on President Joe Biden to appoint California Democrat and progressive leader, Rep. Barbara Lee, as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Since Marcia Fudge’s resignation on March 22, the position has been temporarily occupied by Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman. 

“[Fudge] played a tremendous role. She moved on and I’m sure will continue making a contribution in other ways, but I think a perfect person to follow her would be Barbara Lee,” Bass said. “I think her history of fighting for marginalized populations would serve her well,” Bass said of Lee.

Mayor Bass, who has worked with Lee in Congress from 2011 to 2022, highlighted their collaborative efforts on initiatives supporting housing for former foster care youth and incorporating rental assistance and homelessness funding into Covid relief efforts. Notably, Bass, Lee, and Fudge have all served as chairwomen of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I mean, of course, I want her appointment tomorrow. But I also want to be very sensitive to the balance of power within the House. I know that margin is so close,” Bass said.

The Biden administration, currently reviewing several candidates for the HUD leadership without a finalized decision, considers the role crucial for overseeing federal housing strategies. This includes managing FHA mortgage insurance, community development grants, and Section 8 rental assistance for low-income households. 

Bass, a longtime ally of Biden, plans to promote Lee’s candidacy for HUD Secretary during an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. Here, she will lead a group of mayors advocating for legislation to aid homeless veterans.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that Biden gets re-elected. And so whether she’s appointed now or after he’s sworn in again, that’s fine. It’s never too early to put in a word.”

Lee, having placed fourth in the Senate race, leaves behind a legacy that recently saw her broke rank as one of the early advocates in Congress for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, amidst a protracted humanitarian crisis. This stance set her apart from Schiff, who is staunchly opposed to a ceasefire.

The 77-year-old storied political career saw her as one of ten members of Congress who were enjoined as plaintiffs in the NAACP’s lawsuit against Donald Trump, the first civil legal action seeking to hold the former president along with the Proud Boys and others accountable for their conduct connected to the January 6th insurrection. 

She led on funding HBCUs minority serving institutions and was the first African American to chair the State and Foreign Operations Committee.

Lee also wrote California’s first Violence Against Women Act to ensure protections for victims of domestic violence and authored the California Schools Hate Crimes Reduction Act to protect all students – regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation – from hate crimes. She also worked to defeat California’s three-strikes law.

In 1998, with 66% of the vote, Lee—who holds an MSW from UC Berkeley in mental health—was elected to Congress to serve California’s 12th congressional district, which is based in Oakland. She would go on to be re-elected to the post 12 more times.

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