Senate confirms Donovan to head OMB

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The Senate voted 75-22 Thursday to confirm Shaun Donovan as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Donovan was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but was tapped to replace Sylvia Mathews Burwell at the OMB after she took the helm at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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“Although Shaun Donovan has big shoes to fill left by Sylvia Burwell, I believe he’s up to the task and more importantly she believes he’s up for the task,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said ahead of the vote. “He will be a strong voice for fiscal responsibility and government management.”

The director of the OMB helps the president execute his policies and programs and works to develop his budget.

“His leadership will be critical because while we have made progress on our budget challenges a lot more needs to be done,” Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said. 

Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he opposed Donovan’s nomination because he didn’t think he had the credibility to stand up to the administration and rein in spending.

“Mr. Donovan doesn’t come close to meeting those qualifications,” Sessions said. “He was chosen because he has a good personality, people skills, and is politically loyal and would defend administration goals and priorities even when the result would be unfavorable to the country’s fiscal health.”

Sessions said Donovan was probably “stunned” to find out he was nominated to lead the OMB because based on conversations “he certainly has not prepared himself for it.”

The Senate also confirmed two U.S. ambassadors by voice vote on Thursday.

Douglas Silliman was confirmed to be U.S. ambassador to Kuwait and Dana Smith will serve as U.S. ambassador to Qatar.