WASHINGTON — Democrats on Capitol Hill and housing advocates blasted President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Dr. Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development yesterday, signaling fiery confirmation hearings could lie ahead for Trump’s former GOP presidential rival.

Carson’s appointment drew praise from key Republicans, whose control of the Senate leave Democrats little chance of actually stopping Carson’s confirmation. But Democratic leaders indicated the criticism will be fierce.

“Someone who is as anti-government as him is a strange fit for Housing Secretary, to say the least,” said incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, adding that Carson will have to prove during the confirmation process that he is “well-versed in housing policy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was more blunt.

“Dr. Ben Carson is a disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice to lead a department as complex and consequential as Housing and Urban Development,” Pelosi said.

Housing advocates also sounded the alarm and pressed lawmakers to oppose Carson.

“We must have a HUD secretary who will support full and robust enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and foster equitable housing development,” said Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Ben Carson is not suited for these important tasks.”

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, joined Trump in praising the retired neurosurgeon who once lived in public housing in Detroit. Trump said Carson “has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I’m confident his lifelong career of selfless service will be a positive addition to the incoming administration.”

Democratic mayors voiced concern that Carson, the cabinet member likely to have the most contact with city halls, lacks the requisite experience.

“I know Ben has a distinguished career as a doctor, but I’m not exactly sure what his expertise in housing is,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said on Boston Herald Radio. “That’s a big issue for the city of Boston.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced skepticism on the Trump administration’s commitment to affordable housing.

“Do I expect it to be one of their No. 1 priorities? No, I do not at this point,” de Blasio said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t get something done, so we have to see what he says, and the confirmation process will be fascinating because it will tell us a lot about his vision.”


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