Ben Carson, a former GOP presidential candidate and neurosurgeon turned president-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fielded questions on his qualifications and potential plans as HUD secretary for nearly two-and-a-half hours this morning.
After an introduction by Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Floridian, Carson used his opening remarks to the Senate Banking committee and C-SPAN viewers to touch on his economically disadvantaged childhood in Detroit, hard-fought path to Yale University, and his successful career as a neurosurgeon. With his wife, three sons, and granddaughter in the audience, Carson refuted the claim that he rejected government assistance programs, saying his words have been “skewed” and “twisted.”
When some members of the committee questioned whether his medical background has appropriately prepared him to advocate for the HUD’s mission of creation of “strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all,” Carson staunchly rejected these claims. “There is an assumption we can only do one thing and that we have these very limited brains and they are incapable of learning anything else,” he said. “I find that kind of humorous, particularly knowing what the human brain is capable of.”
Throughout the hearing Carson spoke repeatedly of his intention to—if confirmed as HUD secretary—lead with a “holistic approach.” Carson discussed beginning with a listening tour to "talk to the people with boots on the ground" around the country to assess the needs and programs of individual communities. He did not provide further details on this “holistic approach.”
Carson also vowed he would “uphold the law of the land” to ensure equal housing opportunities and protections are awarded to all communities—including the LGBTQ community, he specified, despite his personal beliefs against same-sex marriage.
The committee also questioned Carson on issues such as lead abatement, budgetary reductions, supportive housing for veterans, Native American housing authorization, rent control, and minimum wage.
Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana directly requested HUD budgetary—and Carson’s—support for the relocation of tenants of the West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, which is slated to be demolished due to the dangerously high amounts of lead and arsenic in the surrounding soil. Carson responded that he would push to see that process completed.
While Carson declared he would “put together a world-class plan on housing,” he did not detail any goals or budgetary alterations associated with the plan.
Watch the entire hearing below.