The Senate cleared the way on Tuesday for former neurosurgeon and presidential candidate Ben Carson to take the helm of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
His nomination was approved by the Senate Banking Committee, according to the Associated Press.
BREAKING: Senate committee approves Ben Carson, President Donald Trump’s nominee for housing secretary.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 24, 2017
Next for Carson will be to earn a simple majority in an up or down vote in the Senate. The Democrats cannot filibuster.
During Carson’s two and half hour hearing on Jan. 12, several noteworthy moments garnered national media attention.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked Carson about the steps he would take to ensure none of HUDs budget personally benefits the Trump family.
“It will not be my intention to do anything that will benefit any American,” Carson said before adding, “It’s for all Americans.”
“If there happens to be an extraordinarily good program that’s working for millions of people and it turns out that someone that you’re targeting is going to gain $10 to it, am I going to say, ‘No, the rest of Americans can’t have it?’ I think logic and common sense is the best way,” Carson responded.
In another exchange publicized by the media, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, asked Carson about enforcing LGBT protections in the public housing.
“Of course, I would enforce all the laws of the land,” Carson said. “Of course, I think all Americans should be protected by the law. What I have said before is I don’t think anyone should get ‘extra rights,’” he said.
Republicans, for their part, circled their wagons around Carson.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., praised Carson for avoiding Warren’s “absurd” question about HUD funds benefiting the Trump family.
“I got to thinking, it seems to me that running this department is not really brain surgery. If you can handle that, you most certainly have the capability to step in and look at this with fresh eyes,” said Sen. Mike Rounds., R-S.D.
It’s unclear the exact scope of policy goals Carson is considering but his far ranging testimony touched on the plight of his families housing woes while growing up and breaking the cycle of poverty.
“If we can give those people hope, then they can move out of those situations,” he testified. “But giving them hope starts with giving them a safe and productive environment.”
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