The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Pam Patenaude to serve as the next deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Patenaude, who garnered seemingly universal support from the housing industry, did not receive universal support in the Senate, but was confirmed by a wide margin. The final vote was 80-17 in favor of Patenaude, with three senators abstaining.
While many Democrats voted for Patenaude, seventeen voted against her nomination.
Voting against Patenaude were Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts; Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut; Kamala Harris, D-California; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois; Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico; Tom Udall, D-New Mexico; and Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
Patenaude currently serves as the president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, previously served as the director of housing policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and served as the HUD assistant secretary for community, planning and development under President George W. Bush.
But now, Patenaude is set to take over the true position of power at HUD.
The HUD secretary, like many other Cabinet positions, is the public face of the department, conducting meetings with housing leaders around the country, listening to local concerns, and celebrating milestones.
The deputy secretary, however, handles most of the day-to-day operations.
As deputy secretary, Patenaude will lead HUD’s disaster management group and will “play a primary leadership and operational role in coordinating the long-term recovery efforts of 16 program and support offices within HUD, including the Offices of Public and Indian Housing, Community Planning and Development, Policy Development and Research, and Housing / Federal Housing Administration,” HUD said in a statement.
“At this moment when so many of our citizens are suffering, Pam will bring strong leadership when we need her most,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Pam’s extensive housing and community development experience will be invaluable as we embark upon the long road to recovery for communities hard-hit by disaster and I’m grateful the Senate confirmed her nomination.”
Ron Terwilliger, the chairman of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America's Families, also celebrated Patenaude’s confirmation.
“We are gratified by the Senate's action today to confirm our colleague and friend, Pam Patenaude, as HUD's Deputy Secretary,” Terwilliger said in a statement. “With her deep housing experience, Pam will be a tremendous asset to Secretary Carson and will no doubt hit the ground running. We need a full team at HUD to respond to America's affordable housing crisis, a challenge made even more difficult by the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.”
Readers of HousingWire will likely be familiar with Patenaude, as she was featured on the cover of HousingWire Magazine last year, and previously recognized as one of HousingWire Magazine’s Women of Influence in 2013.
Patenaude’s nomination moved through the Senate Banking Committee in June, but it’s taken several months to be brought to a full vote.
In just the last couple of weeks, the Mortgage Bankers Association sent a letter to the Senate leadership, calling on Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Schumer to quickly schedule a vote to approve Patenaude as deputy secretary.
Shortly after that, a coalition of nearly 60 organizations that operate in and around the housing industry, including the American Bankers Association, the American Land Title Association, the Appraisal Institute, Habitat for Humanity International, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors, sent a letter to McConnell and Schumer, urging the party leaders to bring Patenaude’s nomination to the Senate floor for a full vote.
And Thursday, that’s just what happened.
Now, all that’s left for Patenaude to officially move to HUD is to be sworn in.