March 2 (UPI) -- Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office Thursday to Dr. Ben Carson hours after the Senate confirmed the pediatric neurosurgeon-turned-politician as President Donald Trump's secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The vote was 58-41. Carson won over a handful of Democrats, a relative moment of bipartisanship after heated debate and mostly party-line votes over other Trump Cabinet nominees. Carson also received the unanimous vote of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee following his confirmation hearing in January.
During those hearings, Carson pledged to uphold longstanding federal bans on housing discrimination and to continue to work to remove lead paint from public housing units.
Carson agreed to take on the HUD job after initially balking at becoming part of Trump's Cabinet, saying he did not have the requisite experience to lead a government agency. Carson has never run a government bureaucracy, but he did experience the government's housing initiatives firsthand as a child when his impoverished family lived in a federally subsidized housing project in Maryland.
Carson will now lead the agency that administered that program, and tens of thousands like it mostly in communities of color in inner-cities across the United States. Accordingly, Carson will be tasked with running an agency that has a $47 billion operating budget.
Carson rose to prominence as a pediatric brain surgeon and author. Upon retiring from medicine, he turned to politics and became a vocal critic of the Obama administration's policies, particularly social programs meant to support low-income Americans. Carson criticized those programs, saying they led many poor people into a life dependent on government hand-outs.
Though his rhetoric earned him wide praise among conservatives, Carson's presidential campaign floundered and he dropped out after Super Tuesday, failing to win a single primary or caucus.