Senate confirms Ben Carson as HUD secretary

Senators voted 58-41 to put former neurosurgeon at helm of housing department

Ben Carson (Credit: Getty Images)
Ben Carson (Credit: Getty Images)

The Senate voted Thursday morning to confirm Dr. Ben Carson as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, more than a month-and-a-half after his January confirmation hearing. The final roll call was 58 for and 41 against.

The vote followed a motion to invoke cloture on Carson’s nomination that passed on Wednesday, a move which New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with most other Democrats, voted against.

Not every Democrat who originally voted to allow Carson’s confirmation to proceed out of the Banking committee voted in favor of Carson on Thursday, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who had grilled Carson on potential conflicts of interest regarding Trump properties during Carson’s confirmation hearing. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), who also pressed Carson on conflicts in that hearing, joined six other Democrats in giving their final votes on the floor to Carson. Republicans voted unanimously to confirm Carson, with the exception of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who was not present following surgery.

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Although Carson has no housing experience and a long track record of criticizing government assistance programs, many housing groups have chosen to focus on whatever positives they can find, such as Carson’s praise for the low income housing tax credit program (LIHTC), the most significant financing mechanism for affordable housing nationally. “Dr. Carson has clearly taken the time to begin to understand and come to appreciate the importance of HUD’s programs,” wrote Diane Yentel, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, following Carson’s confirmation hearing.

Now that Carson has officially joined the cabinet, the Trump administration should begin filling other top vacancies at the department, such as the deputy secretary and housing commissioner positions, placements that Carson will play an active role in vetting.

He’ll be doing it without one of his most trusted confidants, however. Shermichael Singleton, a top aide to Carson and HUD, was fired by the Trump administration last month when officials discovered an anti-Trump editorial he penned for The Hill last fall.