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House Democrats Grill HUD Sec. Ben Carson in Tense Hearing

HeadlineMay 22, 2019

Back on Capitol Hill, House Democrats grilled Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Tuesday. Congressmember Ayanna Pressley pressed Carson on conditions in public housing.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “There’s a Ms. Northcross, a mother and a grandmother living in Brighton, in my district. She’s raised her children and now cares for grandchildren in property with thick mold on the walls. Her son was recently hospitalized—look at the pictures here—because of bone tumors in his arm and leg. He needs surgery to save and improve his quality of life, but he won’t get it because the family must have a sanitary, stable housing condition first. Their actual home literally poses a risk of post-op injury and infection. Her question to you is: What do they become? When you raise children in these conditions, what can they become? So, yes or no, do Ms. Northcross and her family deserve and live in these conditions because they are poor?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “If you’ve listened to anything that I have to say”—

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Yes or no, do they deserve to live in these conditions because they are poor?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “Then you know very well”—

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Would you let your grandmother live in public housing?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “You know very well my view on this.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Would you let your grandmother live in public housing? Yes or no?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “You know very well”—

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: “Under your watch and at your helm, would you allow your grandmother to live in public housing, under these conditions?”

Congressmember Joyce Beatty asked Carson if he was familiar with “OMWI”—he appeared not to be. It stands for Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. A video of Congressmember Katie Porter questioning Carson went viral after the secretary mistakenly thought she was asking about Oreo cookies.

Rep. Katie Porter: “I’d also like you to get back to me, if you don’t mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “An Oreo?”

Rep. Katie Porter: “No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. REO.”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “Real estate?”

Rep. Katie Porter: “What’s the O stand for?”

HUD Secretary Ben Carson: “The Organization?”

Rep. Katie Porter: “Owned, real estate owned. That’s what happens when a property goes to foreclosure. We call it an REO.”

Secretary Carson tweeted a photo of himself holding a package of Oreo cookies and sent a family-size box of Double Stuf Oreos to Congressmember Porter’s office after the hearing. Porter responded to the gift by telling a reporter, “What I’m really looking for is answers.”

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