The Crusader Newspaper Group

Ben Carson, outsider with no government experience, confirmed to lead HUD

By Jose A. DelReal,

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was confirmed Thursday as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, bringing into President Trump’s Cabinet a Washington outsider with no prior government experience and a staunchly conservative view of public assistance.

Support for Carson’s confirmation came down largely along party lines — 58-41 — highlighting the intense partisan and ideological conflicts in Washington and around Trump’s agenda. Carson, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 against Trump and endorsed the celebrity real estate developer shortly after ending his unsuccessful bid. The secretary has indicated that, now that he is confirmed, he will embark on a “listening tour” to learn from career HUD employees and public servants across the country. He and his allies have expressed dismay at his delayed confirmation, which was initially expected to pass through the Senate in early February.

Critics on the left have openly questioned whether Carson has the necessary qualifications for the job managing one of the federal government’s most complex departments. In addition to steering housing policy, Carson will oversee an expansive set of programs that provide assistance to low-income Americans and minorities seeking entry to the middle class. HUD’s annual budget for 2017 is nearly $49 billion, which is used for various government supports, including rental assistance, programs to mitigate homelessness and investments to combat urban poverty. HUD supports nearly 5 million homes with rental assistance.

“Those concerns stem from his own statements. He said, basically, that he’s not qualified for HUD or for government service. So most people I hear ask, ‘How did they convince him to take the job?’ ” Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said in an interview last month.


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