URL of the original posting site: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/321972-senate-confirms-carson-to-lead-hud
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ben Carson to be President Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The final vote was 58-41. Carson needed a simple majority to be approved.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mark Warner (Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) joined all Republicans in backing Carson. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) did not vote.
The former neurosurgeon wasn’t a top target for Senate Democrats. But Carson’s nomination and lack of government experience has divided the caucus.
Top Democrats — including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) — voted against Carson’s nomination earlier this week.
But red-state Democrats, including Manchin, Donnelly and Heitkamp, voted with Republicans to support him.
Republicans have rallied around Carson’s nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted ahead of the vote that he would be confirmed with bipartisan support. “[He] can begin bringing much needed reforms to the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” he said from the Senate floor.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) also urged his colleagues to support Carson. “Once Dr. Carson is confirmed we can begin working on several important issues under HUD’s jurisdiction,” he said.
Carson easily cleared the Senate Banking Committee in late January, picking up the support of liberal senators including Brown and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Warren defended her committee vote amid backlash from progressive outside groups, writing on a Facebook post: “Yes, he is not the nominee I wanted. But ‘the nominee I wanted’ is not the test.” Warren didn’t vote for Carson during the Senate’s procedural vote on Wednesday, and she voted against him again Thursday.
Carson’s nomination has been largely free of controversy. Senators only questioned Carson for 2 1/2 hours during his confirmation hearing, in contrast to more controversial picks — including Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who faced hours of intense grilling. Democrats have voiced public skepticism about Carson’s qualifications, noting that the onetime presidential candidate also previously questioned whether he was fit to run a federal agency.
“Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water,” he said in November, on the heels of rumors that he would be considered for Trump’s Cabinet.
Carson, a conservative Christian, also received some criticism for suggesting that LGBT Americans don’t deserve “extra rights.”
But neither impeded his nomination. Crapo thanked Brown from the Senate floor for being willing to work with him to get Carson to the Senate floor for a vote. It is unclear how Carson will shape the agency. He told lawmakers in his confirmation hearing that he wants to have “listening sessions” with housing officials around the country. He was also noncommittal about upholding an Obama-era rule that beefed up a fair housing law.