Julián Castro confirmed for Obama's Cabinet

The Senate voted 71-26 Wednesday to confirm Julián Castro as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Castro will replace Shaun Donovan, who had held the Cabinet position since President Obama's first term. Obama has nominated Donovan to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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Castro is currently serving as mayor of San Antonio, Texas, while his twin brother, Joaquin, represents Texas in the U.S. House. Both brothers spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and are considered rising stars in the Democratic party.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met with Castro earlier this week to talk about how the housing crisis is still negatively affecting the economy.

“While we have made progress, we are not out of the woods yet,” Reid said after their meeting. “We must continue to provide housing assistance to those who need it.”

President Obama called Castro a “proven leader, a champion for safe, affordable housing and strong, sustainable neighborhoods.”

He noted the support from a bipartisan majority of senators.

“I know that together with the dedicated professionals at HUD, Julián will help build on the progress we’ve made battling back from the Great Recession — rebuilding our housing market, reducing homelessness among veterans, and connecting neighborhoods with good schools and good jobs that help our citizens succeed.”

Castro is expected to play a central role in continuing to the housing market’s recovery as well as housing finance reform, which has stalled out in Congress despite the Senate Banking Committee’s approval of a bipartisan bill. 

Housing industry leaders expressed support for Castro to lead the agency. 

Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said he expects Castro to “promote policies that will strengthen the nation's housing recovery and ensure a reliable and adequate flow of affordable credit for single-family and multifamily housing."

National Association of Realtors President Steve Brown said “Castro’s vision for strong communities and affordable housing is the right fit for HUD, which has helped make the dream of homeownership a reality for millions of Americans.”

The Senate on Wednesday also confirmed Darci Vetter to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and William Adams to be Chairperson of the National Endowment for the Humanities by voice-vote on Wednesday before adopting the motion to proceed to debate on a sportsmen’s bill.

— This article was updated at 1:40 p.m.