Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s nomination to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development was advanced by committee Tuesday, moving to the entire Senate for a vote.

The vote before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee was largely symbolic, and Republican control of the committee virtually guaranteed that Carson’s nomination would advance. It is unclear when the final Senate vote on his confirmation will take place.

But even as Carson’s confirmation appears increasingly likely, he faces persistent questions about his qualifications to lead one of the federal government’s most complex departments. Carson, an acclaimed brain surgeon and former GOP presidential candidate, has no previous experience in government. Urban policy experts and activists also worry that Carson’s conservative ideology will make him inherently antagonistic to HUD’s role in combating poverty.

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