Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has been confirmed as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, by a 58-41 Senate vote.
Six Democrats and one Independent joined with the Republicans to approve the nomination — mostly Democrats who are up for re-election next year and represent states that voted for President Trump, NPR’s Arnie Seipel reports.
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who received blowback from liberals for voting for Carson in committee, voted against his nomination today,” Arnie says.
Carson was a controversial nominee to lead HUD because of his lack of experience in either housing or development — or government in general.
Before Trump announced his selection of Carson, an aide told the media that Carson wasn’t interested in joining the Cabinet because he “feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.”
But the same aide, Armstrong Williams, later told NPR’s Rachel Martin that Carson was qualified to lead HUD because of “his life growing up in subsidized housing, growing up in poor communities.”
“He’s never been disconnected from these inner cities and these people who live these lives,” Williams said. “Dr. Carson may have aspired to become a world-renowned pediatric surgeon and a presidential candidate, but he’s never lost the human touch with people.”
While Carson’s nomination “raised some eyebrows,” NPR’s Pam Fessler reports, members of the Senate came around.
Carson “won easy approval in January from the Senate Banking Committee after he assured lawmakers that he supported some of HUD’s biggest programs, such as rental assistance for the poor, and that he would enforce the nation’s fair housing laws,” Pam says.
HUD has 8,000 employees and an annual budget of almost $50 billion, she says.
Pam has more on what to expect from Carson’s early days at the helm of the agency:
“One of his first challenges will be dealing with Trump administration plans to scale back domestic spending to help pay for a huge boost in the defense budget.
“Carson says he’ll go on a listening tour around the country to hear from those involved in housing and urban development to find out how the agency can best help them.
“Both he and President Trump have said they want to revitalize the nation’s urban areas, but have offered few specifics so far. Democrats say they’re worried Carson will cut HUD programs, such as rental assistance for the poor.”