Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson blamed rampant U.S. homelessness on "stacks and stacks of regulations" on technology for modular and tiny homes.
"If this administration is going to behave in unprecedented ways to hold up legitimate processes, we're going to have to figure out ways to influence that," said Democratic Congressman David Price. "It's just as simple as that."
The department's choice to withhold billions of dollars in appropriated funds has angered Democrats, who are considering whether Congress may need more "drastic moves" to force HUD to release the money.
The refusal by HUD to release the rule book for how the funds can be applied for—and subsequently spent—indefinitely prohibits Puerto Rico's access to more than $8 billion for projects meant to minimize the impact of future storms.
Democrats plan to investigate why HUD has missed a 90-day deadline to begin allowing Puerto Rico to apply for more than $8 billion in allocated mitigation funds for natural disasters.
The Trump administration proposed cutting funding for Baltimore's central rat extermination program just prior to President Donald Trump's "rodent infested mess" rant against the city last month.
Meanwhile, nine states will receive their billions of dollars in time for the 2020 hurricane season. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands almost certainly will not.
"It may be a Hatch Act violation. It may not be. Either way, I honestly don't care anymore," Patton wrote.
"No, not an OREO. An REO. 'R-E-O,'" Representative Katie Porter told Carson.
Carson compared his HUD plan to flight attendants telling passengers to put on their oxygen masks before helping others.
"You know what else has GONE TO SH*T under the watch of the @NYCMayor?" HUD administrator Lynne Patton tweeted.
HUD is suing Facebook on charges of housing discrimination, but only after the company refused to grant the government access to personalized user data, a company spokesperson told Newsweek.
"An agency can't just decide one day that it's not going to follow its own regulations," a plaintiff said.
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"He's got good intentions but the wrong execution."
"You said you would enforce these laws, you haven't, and I think that's the scandal that should get you fired," Warren said.
An aide later told "The New York Times" that Carson was referring to Russia.
The housing secretary visited Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria hit in September.
An aide to the former presidential contender had said Carson initially removed himself from consideration due to inexperience.
A nationwide proposal could ban cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all living units, indoor common areas and administrative offices.
The new rules would require cities to look for racial bias in housing practices.