Senate Confirms HUD Nominees Farias and Rackleff
By voice vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed several of President Trump’s nominees for key HUD positions. Neal Rackleff, for HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, and Anna Farias, for HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, were confirmed. Mr. Rackleff, an attorney working in private practice, previously headed the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department, where he administered HOME, CDBG, and other programs that HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) oversees. And Ms. Farias, who currently chairs the Board of Regents at Texas Women’s University, held a variety of positions at HUD during President George W. Bush’s administration.
The confirmation followed the Senate Banking Committee’s hearing on the nominations held on July 18. At the hearing Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) expressed concerns that the nominees would not fully advocate within the Trump administration for the affordable housing programs they would oversee.
At the hearing, Mr. Rackleff defended President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 HUD budget, which would cut funding by $7.5 billion compared to FY 2017, and which proposes to eliminate HOME and CDBG and cut other CPD programs. Rackleff stated he was confident HUD would be able to fulfill its mission with whatever resources it receives through the appropriations process. Senator Warren expressed deep concerns about Mr. Rackleff’s willingness to advocate for HUD programs.
During her confirmation hearing, Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked Farias if she supported the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and would commit to implementing it. Farias stated that while she will “review the concerns” about the “new rule,” she will work to implement AFFH.