WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote Monday evening, March 1, some time after 5:30 p.m., to end debate on the nomination of Governor Gina M. Raimondo to serve as Commerce Secretary.  If Raimondo garners support from a simple majority of U.S. Senators, it will tee up a final vote on her confirmation on Tuesday.

As the head of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Raimondo would oversee a nearly $9 billion annual budget; a complex organization that comprises twelve separate federal bureaus and agencies; and about 47,000 federal employees.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed says he is confident that Governor Raimondo will garner enough votes to advance and be confirmed.

“Governor Raimondo will soon be Secretary Raimondo.  She’s earned bipartisan praise because she is extremely well-qualified and has a real knack for connecting with people and solving problems.  I am thrilled she will soon be serving Rhode Island and the nation in this new capacity and I look forward to addressing her as ‘Madame Secretary’,” said Senator Reed.  “She is going to be a great addition to President Biden’s cabinet and someone who will work hard every day to deliver for every state, the American people, and the nation.”

On January 26, Reed, along with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, introduced Governor Raimondo at her Senate Commerce Committee nomination hearing.  On February 3, the Commerce Committee voted 21 to 3 to recommend Raimondo’s nomination be considered by the full U.S. Senate.

Monday’s “cloture” vote is procedural and ends unlimited debate on Raimondo’s nomination, narrowing it to no more than 30 hours.  Once cloture is achieved, it then sets up a final confirmation vote, likely the next day, which actually decides the outcome.  Both votes require a simple majority.

Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats in the U.S. Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the deciding vote in case of a tie.

Senator Reed predicted the Vice President wouldn’t need to be on standby because Governor Raimondo will receive bipartisan support.

“I’ve spoken with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  They know what a thoughtful, dedicated public servant Governor Raimondo is.  I am confident she will be approved,” said Reed.  “Once she is confirmed and sworn in later this week, I expect her to get right to work at the Commerce Department supporting job creation, addressing trade challenges, and strengthening America’s economy.”

Senator Reed also says he is looking forward to working with Rhode Island’s incoming Governor Daniel J. McKee, who currently serves as Lt. Governor.

After Raimondo is confirmed by the full U.S. Senate, she will resign as Governor and be sworn in as a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet later this week.  Then Lt. Governor Daniel J. McKee will be officially sworn in as Rhode Island’s 76th Governor and serve the remaining two years of the term.

“I’m looking forward to working with incoming Governor McKee, as I have with every Rhode Island Governor.  He’s already demonstrated a commitment to combating COVID-19, and I am laser-focused on delivering more federal dollars to Rhode Island to protect families and serve as a catalyst for strong, sustainable economic growth,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, who is working to deliver additional state and local aid as part of a massive American Rescue Plan package working its way through Congress.

The Commerce Department oversees a variety of U.S. trade and economic development missions touching many sectors of the economy, from manufacturing to fisheries to technology and the National Weather Service, including the: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA); Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS); U.S. Census Bureau; Economic Development Administration (EDA); Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs (OUS/EA); International Trade Administration (ITA); Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA); National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); National Technical Information Service (NTIS); National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA); and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

Monday’s U.S. Senate schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 1, 2021

  • The Senate will convene at 3:00 p.m.  Following the prayer and pledge, Sonceria Ann Berry is expected to be sworn in as Secretary of the Senate.
  • Following the swearing-in and Leader remarks, the Senate will proceed to Executive Session to resume consideration of the nomination of Miguel A. Cardona to be Secretary of Education.
  • At 5:30pm, the Senate will proceed to two roll call votes relative to the following:
    • Confirmation of the nomination of Miguel A. Cardona to be Secretary of Education.
    • Motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Gina Marie Raimondo to be Secretary of Commerce.