On any given day in New York, there are more homeless adults than fans at a sold out game in Yankee Stadium; more homeless children than attendees at a packed to capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Then, there are those on the edge of a precipice.
Twenty million American families pay more than half their income on housing, forced to make toxic trade-offs like medicine for a sick child, or nutritious food for the household.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis.
One would think that Senate Democrats would move urgently to confirm the necessary leadership of the federal department responsible for addressing this shameful situation.
Instead the nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, is held hostage to a partisan strategy of gridlock and delay.
It's not as though Carson hasn't been thoroughly vetted by Senate Democrats.
Or, that they have expressed substantive reasons to oppose his nomination.
Prior to his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee over one month ago, the nominee spent days visiting with committee members from both parties — even though he only needed the votes of the majority — answering questions and showing respect for their important role in confirming presidential nominees.
At the hearing, Dr. Carson patiently and thoroughly answered questions by Democrats and Republicans — for hours.
Not a single Democrat announced their opposition. On January 24 every Democrat on the committee, including leading progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voiced support for him with a unanimous voice vote of approval.
Yet the Democratic leadership refuses to follow the lead of the key committee, allowing an up or down vote by the full Senate. This, even though some of their most vocal critics of President Trump support Carson.
The losers aren't the politicians; it is the poorest among us who depend on stable leadership by the federal government to provide critical housing assistance.
For weeks now, the 8,500 HUD employees have gone without a leader.
As the $48 billion dollar a year department drifts, important challenges go unmet — lives become negatively impacted. Senate Democratic leadership is sabotaging the ability of HUD to play a meaningful role in the lives of our neighbors who are the least well off.
The reason that Dr. Carson is being delayed is because he is collateral damage to a larger Washington, D.C. political game, one still being played out.
Senate Democrats are angry with Trump about decisions having nothing to do with HUD or housing, executive orders on immigration, the Keystone pipeline, and other matters.
They seek retribution for over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee not having received a hearing. They are also frustrated over Harry Reid's nuclear option — which dismantled the filibuster tradition — that backfired on them.
So, they are flaying-about, trying to make a point about relevance, that nobody but themselves understands. They misinterpret anger for strategy.
What brought us to this point?
Increasingly the brittle partisanship and resultant political strategies are making America ungovernable. Democrats seem to be saying that the new standard is that the nominees must agree with them on every issue to deserve an up or down vote. Answer my questions satisfactorily? Doesn't matter. Commit to work with me on issues I care about? So what? Have a stellar record? Big deal!
Americans want government to work, and they understand checks and balances.
They accept that opposing parties will have disagreements.
But we have descended to a place where the rallying cry seems to be we will do anything we can to stop the president from staffing his administration with talent who will help him govern.
There is some irony here.
During the Obama administration, many congressional Democrats complained bitterly that Republicans were willing to shut down the federal government to win budgetary concessions.
Yet, what exactly are Senate Democrats doing now?
By blocking, delaying, and boycotting top nominees like Ben Carson they seek to grind the new administration to a halt.
Is this really who they want to be?
Ben Carson is an unlikely nominee to face this obstruction. He grew up in poverty in inner city Detroit. Born to a teenage mother, he has first person knowledge of the racial challenges, disadvantages, and suffering — all too common to those depending on the federal agency he seeks to lead.
Through talent and determination he became a rock star in the field of medicine, becoming the head of pediatric neurosurgery at famed Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. at 33 years old.
He completed a number of groundbreaking firsts in his field.
Dr. Ben Carson is soft spoken and intellectual.
During his confirmation hearing he pledged to strongly support HUD's mission.
He also clearly impressed committee Democrats with his passion and knowledge of the connection between health and housing; particularly those involving lead-based paint.
He expressed his support for the vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, saying that he believed that it was among the most important elements of the Civil Rights Act.
Bill Clinton's housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, joined several other former HUD secretaries in a letter urging a confirmation.
In short, if Carson was a nominee by a Democratic president, those same committee members would have cheered him.
It's time to stop partisan obstruction, allowing for a proper up or down vote for Dr. Ben Carson.
If some Democrats want to go on record opposing the president's choice they have the option to vote against confirmation.
But Democratic leadership should have enough respect for the mission of housing, for the agency that is charged with serving that mission, and for the hardships caused by a growing housing affordability crisis — to permit its members to vote their conscience.
Without doubt the "conscience vote" is one to confirm Dr. Ben Carson.
Armstrong Williams is the author of "Reawakening Virtues." He is a political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called "The Right Side," and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (6-7 p.m. and 5-6 a.m.) Monday through Friday. He also is owner of Howard Stirk Holdings Broadcast TV stations. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.
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