Yesterday, the Senate voted 62-37 to end debate on Ben Carson’s nomination as the incoming Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and to schedule a confirmation vote today.
And now it’s official: Carson has the job.
The road to Secretary
The former neurosurgeon was Donald Trump’s opponent in the primary race for the Republican Presidential nomination, but after his victory in November, Trump tweeted that he was “seriously considering” Carson for the position of HUD Secretary.
I am seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson as the head of HUD. I’ve gotten to know him well–he’s a greatly talented person who loves people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
That consideration turned into a nomination in December.
After vetting and disclosure, nominees are sent to the Senate Banking committee for investigation and questioning. At that hearing, Carson pivoted from some of his past comments on the perils of federal assistance and expressed support for HUD’s core responsibilities and homeownership-driven programs, which appears to have drummed up increased real estate industry support.
What’s on the docket?
One thing Carson won’t be dealing with is a reduction to mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs). Eleven days after the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD, announced its plan to reduce MIPs by a quarter of a percentage point, and an hour after President Trump was sworn in, HUD announced in a letter that cuts were “suspended indefinitely.”
Also, the Trump administration — and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — have expressed interest in rolling back parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If Dodd-Frank is repealed, there is also a possibility that HUD (and Carson) may once again be in charge of administering and enforcing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which is currently under the CFPB and regulates how real estate companies may do business with other related companies (such as mortgage lenders).
National Association of Realtors (NAR) President William E. Brown released this statement on the nomination:
“Dr. Carson should be proud of his achievement. The task at hand is a big one, and we applaud his commitment to the challenges that lie ahead.
“NAR has been the voice of real estate for over a century. In that time we’ve seen changes in markets, in Washington, and in the business of our Realtor members. But there’s a reason that homeownership is called the ‘American Dream,’ and that hasn’t changed one bit.
“Homeownership helps build communities and build wealth for families. And we know that the policies set in Washington can make a real difference for individual Americans as they work to realize the dream of homeownership for themselves.
“We’re committed to helping them get there, which means addressing the hurdles buyers, current homeowners and investors face in the marketplace. Housing inventories are tight and mortgage credit is hard to come by, and at the same time far too many buyers are saddled with high rents and student debt that stand in the way of saving for a down payment.
“We look forward to working with Secretary Carson to meet these challenges head on.”
John Graff, chair of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals Policy Committee, had this to say in a statement:
“NAGLREP congratulates Ben Carson on his Senate confirmation. While we have obvious concerns with his past statements regarding the LGBT community, we look forward to working with the new HUD secretary to ensure that critical protections for the community remain in place. Our first step in ensuring this happens is our March 14 LGBT Housing Policy Summit in Washington. HUD will be represented and we are hopeful the needs of the community will be heard.”
And Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), who expressed a change of heart since Carson’s nomination said in response to the confirmation:
“In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee and in written responses to questions for the record, Dr. Carson stated his belief that the federal government has an important role to play in supporting deeply poor households and families.
“NLIHC stands ready to work with Dr. Carson to follow through on these commitments and to work together to end homelessness and housing poverty in America.”
National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) President and CEO Peter Bell added: “The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association congratulates Dr. Ben Carson on his confirmation to serve as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“His lifelong commitment to improving the well-being of children and families offers Secretary Carson a unique perspective on the housing programs he will oversee in his new position, including FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program.
“For nearly three decades, FHA has insured HECM reverse mortgage loans for homeowners aged 62 and older, and helped more than a million seniors to age in place. We look forward to working with the Secretary and his new leadership team in support of the program.”