Senate Confirms Retired Neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The Senate confirmed retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as the new secretary of Housing and Urban Development in a 58-41 vote, primarily along party lines, Thursday.

Carson has said he will work to help underprivileged communities.

“I feel that I can make a significant contribution, particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need,” Carson said in December. “We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow for education policy studies at the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that he is confident Carson will work to strengthen families.

“The major cause of child poverty in America is the collapse of the family in low-income communities,” Rector said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “Dr. Carson can serve as a powerful spokesperson for the restoration of the family, the decrease in poverty, and the improvement of human well-being across the nation.”

Carson, who said he used to be a “flaming liberal,” is now an outspoken critic of government dependency.

During his confirmation hearings, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., asked Carson about the best way to help those on government assistance.

“What is the best possible thing we can do for somebody who is on government assistance?” Tillis asked.

“Get them off of it,” Carson replied.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., congratulated Carson on his confirmation and said that he and Carson would “work to get more Americans out of poverty and on the ladder of opportunity.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Carson will “bring a fresh perspective to a government agency in desperate need of innovative change.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he voted to confirm Carson because he believes Carson “understands that the housing and development needs facing West Virginia are different than those facing America’s urban communities,” and that he looks forward to collaborating with Carson to “improve the lives of West Virginians.”

The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee unanimously voted to move Carson out of committee on Jan. 24, yet, despite the bipartisan support in the committee vote, Carson did face Democrat obstruction.

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“[Democrats] are claiming they successfully delayed Carson, and that’s partially true,” Rachel Bovard, a former Senate aide and director of policy services at The Heritage Foundation, said in an email to The Daily Signal.

“They delayed him by forcing all post-cloture time to be run on every single nominee,” Bovard said. “Once cloture [a procedure to end debate] is invoked on a nominee, 30 hours of debate is required, unless both sides agree by unanimous consent to shorten it.”

Democrats were able to successfully stall Carson’s vote for over a month by demanding every nominee meet the maximum 30 hours of debate before taking a full Senate vote, according to Bovard.

“The [Democrats] have effectively tied up the floor and slowed the pace of confirmations to a literal crawl. It’s actually quite an effective tactic by the [Democrats],” Bovard said.

Carson, according to ABC News, is the 17th of 22 of Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations to be confirmed by the Senate.

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