Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson stood up to heated questioning from Democrat lawmakers on Tuesday.
Carson testified before the House Financial Services Committee about a new proposal that would strip public housing away from families that contain one or more illegal immigrants. The point of the proposal is to free up housing for American citizens on a growing waiting list.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) called Carson’s proposal “despicable” as it would remove children who may be American citizens or legal residents from public housing.
“Quite frankly, I find it despicable,” she said. A HUD study revealed recently that around 25,000 families would be affected by the new proposal and about 55,000 children.
Maloney continued, “Your plan to create vacancies by making 55,000 American children homeless is among the most damaging proposals I have ever seen.”
She then asked, “where will they live?”
Carson defended the proposal and said the plan is not as extreme as Democrats are making it. He said the proposal provides plenty of time for families to find new housing, but it is also reliant on lawmakers finding a solution to the illegal immigration problem in the country.
“If you read the rule carefully,” Carson said, “you will see that it provides a six-month deferral on request, if they have not found another place to live.”
Carson went on to say that the deferral can be renewed twice “for a total of 18 months, which is plenty of time for Congress to engage in comprehensive immigration reform so that this becomes a moot point.”
Carson continued to defend the proposal by saying that it is already against the law for illegal immigrants to receive benefits like public housing and there are children, disabled and elderly folks on a waiting list for public housing.
“If in fact you want to explain to the American citizens who have been on the wait list for several years in your district in New York why we should continue to support families who are not here legally, I would be happy to join you in helping explain that to them,” Carson told Maloney in a fiery moment.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) argued that only freeing up 25 to 35,000 housing units will not make a dent in a waiting list that includes millions of people. She went on to say Carson’s proposal is “shameful” and “immoral.”
“We have a very substantial affordable housing crisis, and there are two ways to approach it. Continue to throw money at it, which has been done for a long time without solving the problem, or ask yourself why do you have that problem of escalating prices,” Carson responded.
Carson’s words didn’t seem to matter much to Democrats looking to score points from hot soundbites. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called the proposal “cruel” when she got the opportunity to speak.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) stepped in at one point to try and offer Carson assistance and blasted Democrats for not responding to Carson’s actual words or giving him time to properly answer questions.
“Mr. Secretary, they continue to ask a questions and not allow you time to answer them,” said Posey. “That’s pretty selfish, pretty bad behavior, so, if you want any time to answer anything you just give me a thumbs up and I’ll yield sometime to you.”
Nydia Velázquez did not appreciate those words.
“What did you say?” she asked.
Carson answered Posey anyway saying, “Thank you, I appreciate that, I mean it does seem a little silly to have a hearing where you ask someone questions and you can’t answer it. Seems like more of a platform to make a speech.”
Valsquez then asked Posey to yield to which the lawmaker said, “no.”
“You call me selfish? By fighting here for children in America?” Velazquez said. “Shame on you!”
Waters then stepped in and clearly took Valsquez’s side. “Let me remind you,” Waters said, “members will refrain from impugning the personal motives of other members.”
Despite those words, Waters never stepped in as lawmakers seemed to attack Carson’s character and his motivations.
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