WASHINGTON — The Republican-led Senate advanced retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson's nomination to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, ending debate on his appointment and setting up a final vote later this week.
Carson, a former Baltimore County resident, won support from all Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the vote Tuesday -- virtually assuring he has the votes needed for confirmation.
The only African American nominated to President Donald Trump's cabinet, Carson has sailed through the confirmation process despite having no experience in housing policy. Trump has described Carson as a central player in his effort to revitalize cities.
If confirmed, Carson will oversee a department with 8,000 employees and a nearly $50 billion budget. Advocates are watching how he will address the department's growing role in the mortgage market and whether he will make cuts to programs such as rental assistance.
The vote to end debate on his nomination split Maryland's two Democratic senators: Sen. Ben Cardin supported allowing Carson to have an up-or-down vote while Sen. Chris Van Hollen opposed it.
Cardin said Wednesday he did not expect to vote for Carson's confirmation.
"I just don't believe he has the background in housing that I would like to see," Cardin said. "I don't think it's the right position for him."