President-elect Donald Trump nominated retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson to be his administration's secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Carson was Trump's opponent in the Republican primary but swiftly endorsed his candidacy after dropping out.
On Dec. 5, Trump announced he had tapped Carson to head HUD, a department that focuses on fair housing and addressing homelessness, reports CNN.
"I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development," Trump said in a statement. "Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities."
On Nov. 30, Carson had indicated his nomination was imminent in a Facebook post, writing, "After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone."
The Trump transition team had previously offered Carson the role of secretary of Health and Human Services, which he declined. Longtime Carson aide Armstrong Williams said Carson felt that he was unqualified to run a federal agency, despite having mounted a campaign to be president.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has blasted Carson's nomination, citing Williams' comments.
"During his time in Baltimore, Dr. Ben Carson was a phenomenal neurosurgeon, but he has no experience developing housing policy affecting tens of millions of households or running a complex federal agency, as his own spokesman admitted just last month," Cummings said.
Meanwhile, Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin praised Carson's nomination.
"[Carson] is a great choice for [HUD]," Ryan tweeted. "A shining example of overcoming poverty, he will put focus on dignity rather than dependence."
The HUD department has a budget of roughly $50 billion and 8,000 staff. The department is instrumental in providing safe housing to help lift the homeless out of poverty, underwriting mortgages and collecting data for policymakers and researchers, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The department also focuses on rooting out racially discriminatory housing practices, based on the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Carson has been previously critical of HUD under President Barack Obama, calling the department's focus on fair housing a "mandated social-engineering scheme," according to The Daily Beast.
Congress will have to confirm Carson before he can assume the role of HUD secretary.