Gina Raimondo

Gina Raimondo Confirmed as US Secretary of Commerce, Resigns as RI Governor

She resigned as governor of Rhode Island and was replaced by Lt. Gov. Dan McKee

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The U.S. Senate confirmed Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Tuesday, with just 15 senators voting no.

The vote was 84-15. She needed a simple majority to be confirmed.

As secretary of commerce, Raimondo will oversee the Census and the National Weather Service, help negotiate trade deals, promote job creation and more. The Democrat's path to Washington cleared its penultimate hurdle on Monday, when the Senate voted 84-15 to end debate on her nomination by President Joe Biden.

She resigned as governor several hours after being confirmed, calling her six years leading Rhode Island "the honor of a lifetime" in her resignation letter.

Raimondo was replaced by Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, a fellow Democrat who's expected to be worn in as the state's 76th governor in a private ceremony.

"I have the utmost confidence in you," Raimondo wrote to McKee in the resignation letter. "You are a proud Rhode Islander, a dedicated public servant, an experienced executive, and a good man. You will serve our state honorably as its 76th governor."

The letter also highlighted Raimondo's successes with the state's economy, infrastructure, education and more.

"Thank you, Rhode Island, for the trust you have placed in me these past ten years. It has been a privilege to serve as your treasurer and governor, and I know the future is bright," she said.

At what was expected to be her final State of the State address last month, Raimondo praised the resilience and sacrifice of Rhode Island's citizens during the pandemic. She vowed a seamless transition to McKee's administration in the fight against the coronavirus.

"Many years from now, we're going to look back at 2020 and we're going to look back at everything we overcame together," said Raimondo. "What I hope we remember about this year isn't so much the struggle and the sacrifice and the hardship. I hope what we remember is our strength, and our determination and our fortitude."

A week earlier, Raimondo appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee for her nomination hearing. She focused on the need to help those sectors of the economy and the workers hit hardest by the coronavirus and took a tough line on China.

She's one of several New Englanders joining Biden's Cabinet, including Connecticut's Miguel Cardona, who was confirmed Monday as secretary of education, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has yet to be confirmed as secretary of labor.

NBC/The Associated Press
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