Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson moved one step closer to becoming the 17th Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Tuesday following a confirmation vote from a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs voted unanimously in approval for Carson’s nomination to serve as HUD Secretary. With no objections, the nomination was thereby reported favorably to the full Senate for final confirmation.
“Dr. Carson’s experience will help him navigate and tackle the challenges that HUD currently faces and HUD will benefit from having a Secretary with a different perspective and a diverse background,” said Committee Chairman Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) during the confirmation vote hearing. “I am excited to support Dr. Carson to become the 17th Secretary of HUD.”
Other committee members, such as Committee Ranking Member Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), expressed concerns for Carson’s lack of housing policy experience, however, these concerns were allayed to an extent following private meetings with Carson and his previous testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs earlier this month.
“Despite my reservations and disagreements with some of his positions, I will give Dr. Carson the benefit of the doubt,” Sen. Brown said. “I plan to vote for him based on commitments he has made to me in person, in testimony and in written responses to, and in front of, this committee.”
Some of these commitments include Carson’s promises to address the “scourge of lead hazards” that threaten the futures of children and families across the country, as well as his promise to uphold the Fair Housing Act and the rights of LGBTQ individuals—two topics that warranted discussion during Carson’s nomination hearing following controversial comments publicized in the press.
“I’ll do everything in my power to hold Dr. Carson accountable for making good on his promises,” Brown said.
Although discussion of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program was largely absent from Carson’s nomination hearing, his plans call for a more “holistic approach” to housing policy, particularly through the collaboration of various government agencies, such as the Department of Education and the Department of Labor.
“We must include the areas of health care, education, jobs and the skills to do them, in addition to transportation, as we develop the best approach,” Carson said before Senate committee members earlier this month. “In order to provide access to quality housing for the elderly, disabled and low-income, we need to work across silos, and I intend to do that at HUD, should you confirm me.”
Carson needs only a simple majority vote to clear the Senate, meaning he can be confirmed with only Republican support since Democrats are outnumbered 52-46.
Written by Jason Oliva