Senate panel OKs Detroit native Ben Carson for HUD job
Washington — The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee has unanimously approved President Donald Trump’s nominee for housing secretary, Ben Carson.
The Detroit native, former Republican presidential candidate and celebrated neurosurgeon would lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a sprawling agency with 8,300 employees and a budget of about $47 billion. His nomination now heads to the full Senate.
Committee Chairman Michael Crapo of Idaho praised Carson and his impressive career, saying HUD “will benefit from having a secretary with a different perspective and a diverse background.”
Ranking Democrat Sherrod Brown said he had some reservations but welcomed Carson’s promises to address lead hazards in public housing.
A Senate panel also approved Trump’s choice of conservative billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department.
Ross, 79, has specialized in buying distressed companies that still have a potential for delivering profits. He has known Trump for more than 20 years, was an early supporter of his presidential campaign and an economic policy adviser to Trump’s team.
The Senate commerce committee approved his nomination by a voice vote. The full Senate must still vote on the nomination.
Ross has been a critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, which he blames for a loss of U.S. jobs. He has also accused China of protectionist policies.
Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee has forced a one-week delay in the committee vote on attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein says one reason she asked for the delay until Jan. 31 is because of women who marched in Washington and other locations on Saturday. Feinstein said the women want equal rights and pay, rights for workers and protections for the environment.
“It is these principles, these values that the attorney general must defend,” Feinstein said at a committee meeting Tuesday.
She said “we owe it to” those women to be careful in considering the nomination.
Feinstein said the committee received 188 pages of new material Sunday that need to be reviewed. Committee rules allow any member of the committee to delay a vote.
A Senate panel has easily approved the nomination of Elaine Chao to lead the Transportation Department.
Chao was labor secretary in President George W. Bush’s administration and deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush. She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and was known to many senators before President Donald Trump tapped her for his Cabinet.
Chao told senators during a hearing on her nomination this month that she hopes to “unleash the potential” of private investors to boost infrastructure spending.
She is expected to play a major role in Trump’s effort to fulfill his campaign promise to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment. The administration is expected to release its infrastructure plan this spring.