Dems press HUD nominee on proposed budget cuts

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WASHINGTON — President Trump's nominee to be the No. 2 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development faced tough questioning Tuesday as Senate Democrats grilled her on proposals to slash the department's budget.

The administration has called for cutting HUD's funding by $6 billion, or 13%, which has angered Democrats.

"The proposed cuts would hurt some of the most vulnerable families in Massachusetts and all across this country," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told Pamela Patenaude, who is nominated as deputy HUD secretary, during a confirmation hearing at the Senate Banking Committee. "The HUD budget is a disgrace, and anyone that cares about housing should oppose it."

Patenaude testified that she was not involved in the budget process, but she stood behind it.

"As the president's nominee, I support the president's budget," she said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also noted that the budget reduces funding for Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Housing Grants, which help protect children from lead poisoning, asthma and other health problems. Brown said he is particularly troubled by the reduction in HUD grants that are used to reduce lead levels in HUD-assisted housing.

"I believe Secretary [Ben] Carson is very committed to reducing lead poisoning," Patenaude responded.

Democrats were lighter on Kevin Hassett, who was nominated as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Hassett backed Trump's pledge that it is possible to return the U.S. to a 3% economic growth rate.

"Historically we have had a lot of labor force growth, capital stock growth and technological innovation that has driven growth up to 3%," Hassett said. "I think it is absolutely possible to return to a place where you can get 3% growth if we design policies in a way that would encourage capital formation in the United States."

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