The Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved by voice vote the nomination of Dr. Ben Carson as HUD secretary on Tuesday, January 24. His nomination now goes for a vote before the full Senate.
During Dr. Carson’s confirmation hearing, several Democratic Senators asked the nominee tough questions about his past statements about the role of the federal government in addressing poverty and criticizing the Obama administration’s enforcement of fair housing laws. Dr. Carson used his confirmation hearing to reaffirm his commitment to enforcing federal law, expanding affordable housing programs, promoting public-private partnerships, and addressing lead and other health risks in housing.
Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) commented on his vote to confirm Dr. Carson: "I would not have chosen him because of his lack of experience and his often troubling public statements over the last three years. But despite my reservations and my disagreements with some of his positions, I'll give Dr. Carson the benefit of the doubt based on commitments he has made to me in person and to this Committee in his testimony and written responses.”
In his written responses to questions from Mr. Brown, Dr. Carson stated that he “will absolutely commit” to advocating for housing to be included in the President’s infrastructure package, agreed to consider hiring additional staff to enforce federal fair housing laws, and gave support to increasing efforts to help formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into their communities. Dr. Carson stated that he is “a fan of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit” and that healthy housing will be one of his priorities. He promised to “call for continued investment to end homelessness for veterans, the chronically homeless, and children and families.”
Dr. Carson affirmed that he will advocate for increasing resources for affordable housing for people with the lowest incomes. “When it comes to deep affordability, though, removing all regulatory barriers won’t get you there,” Dr. Carson wrote. “It comes down to subsidy. Subsidy levels haven’t changed appreciably under Democratic or Republican administrations. I think we can all agree that we will all make sure housing is a key consideration in every appropriations bill.”
“I may be fresh to the fight in Washington, DC, but I am not fresh to the struggle to improve communities and better lives,” Dr. Carson wrote. “I will recruit a bipartisan list of practitioners, not ideologues, to serve as Assistant Secretaries. I will surround myself with people who have a passion for improving the agency, not breaking down its programs. I will work with the career staff to examine what has been tried, why it worked or did not work, and if it did not, why not. I hope we can do this together. I hope we can work as partners to reexamine and reimagine these programs.”
Senator Brown’s press statement about his vote for Dr. Carson’s nomination and Dr. Carson’s written responses to Mr. Brown’s questions can be found at: http://bit.ly/2kjhl6l
Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) press statement about her vote for Dr. Carson’s nomination and Dr. Carson’s written responses to Ms. Warren’s questions can be found at: http://bit.ly/2j8508f
NLIHC’s press statement after Dr. Carson’s confirmation hearing is at: http://bit.ly/2iMtDD7