HUD Secretary Ben Carson stumped during congressional hearing

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was stumped during his Tuesday testimony before the House Financial Services Committee when asked by Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., about foreclosure rates for real-estate owned, or REO, properties. Carson seemed unfamiliar with the term, confusing it with Oreo cookies.

In another contentious exchange with Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, Carson was asked once again about the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion and, once again, drew a blank.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., defended Carson, calling Beatty’s question “unfair.” Zeldin noted that HUD doesn’t have an “Office of Minority and Women Inclusion” under that name. The office that serves that function in HUD is called the “Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” but Carson seemed unclear about that as well.

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
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HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing
UNITED STATES - MARCH 22: HUD Secretary Ben Carson testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on March 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 22: Ranking member Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, right, and Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, conduct a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development featuring testimony by Secretary Ben Carson on March 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), center, speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), listens during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson makes notes as he testifies before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), speaks during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. The order of a $31,000 dining room table for Carson's office suite and allegations of retaliation against an official who objected to the purchase because it exceeded the $5,000 limit is already the focus of the House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the HUD fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. Secretary Carson has drawn fire from lawmakers for purchasing furniture for his office suite despite agency cutbacks. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson testifies before a Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled "Oversight of HUD" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson waits to testify to the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the FY2019 budget request for the Department Housing and Urban Development on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson arrives to testify to the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the FY2019 budget request for the Department Housing and Urban Development on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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From the start of Tuesday’s hearing, Carson clashed with Democratic lawmakers. Citing delays in disaster aid to Puerto Rico, Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said his department “is actively causing harm” to the people it is intended to help.

Perhaps the most heated exchange of the day, however, came with Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who pressed Carson on substandard housing conditions, and the exchange produced another heated moment after Carson refused to answer “yes” or “no” questions.

Later in the day Tuesday, Carson responded to the Oreo controversy with a Twitter missive to Porter.

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