The U.S. Senate today confirmed former neurosurgeon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, ending a protracted and controversial nomination process. Carson, who has no previous experience with housing issues or the federal government, was subject to intense scrutiny regarding his ability to lead the department.
Reactions to the Senate’s 58-41 confirmation — which, as the New York Times notes, reveals weaker Democratic opposition to Carson than some of President Trump’s other nominees — were predictably mixed, depending on where you choose to look.
Peter Bell, president and CEO of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, applauded Carson’s confirmation and foresaw cooperation with the new secretary going forward.
“His lifelong commitment to the wellbeing of children and families offers Secretary Carson a unique perspective on the housing programs he will oversee in his new position, including FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program,” Bell said in a statement released shortly after the confirmation was announced. “We look forward to working with the Secretary and his new leadership team in support of the program.”
During his confirmation hearings, Carson had pointed to his hardscrabble upbringing, noting that while he had never lived in public housing, his single mother had limited housing options and his family was forced to move from Detroit to Boston in search of a home. He also touted his experience as a doctor, mentioning the effects that clean, safe housing has on long-term child development.
Over in the forward-lending world, Mortgage Bankers Association president and CEO David Stevens had similar well wishes for Carson. “MBA applauds the full Senate for confirming Dr. Carson as the next HUD secretary,” Stevens said in a statement. “His commitment to bolster America’s real estate markets and assist communities nationwide will serve him well in his new role.”
Some Democratic politicians, meanwhile, decried Carson’s confirmation. “Dr. Carson has previously expressed the idea that ‘poverty is really more of a choice than anything else,’” California Rep. Maxine Waters, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement. “Thinking like this could put our nation’s vulnerable in great danger.”
Written by Alex Spanko