Budget chief pick to face fire at Senate hearing

President Obama’s new pick to be budget director is set to come under fire from GOP lawmakers at his Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing.

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan has faced tough questions before but the top post at the Office of Management and Budget has become a flashpoint in the fiscal fight between Obama and congressional Republicans.

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Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) accused Obama of appointing political hacks to OMB in the past and vowed to hold Donovan accountable at the hearing.

“It would appear Secretary Donovan has no relevant budgetary or economic experience,” Sessions said in a statement. “Indeed, it seems he has more experience spending money than saving it.

“I fear once again the President may have chosen someone whom he thought would be politically loyal, rather than a wise and frugal manager of the taxpayer dollar,” he continued.

Obama on Friday tapped Donovan to replace Sylvia Burwell, who has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sessions said that Obama’s budget office has used gimmicks to hide spending and rebuffed legal requirements to come up with plans to save Medicare.

“The Office of Management and Budget should be one of the least political departments of government. But the President has made into one of the most political,” the ranking member said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the number two Republican on the panel also raised questions about policies at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Donovan.

He called on Obama to overhaul the agency now with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro being nominated to replace Donovan.

“Too many housing authority executives use tax dollars to feather their own nests.  HUD needs to enforce the salary cap on federal funding,” Grassley said. “Top compensation packages need to be transparent going forward, not just under pressure from a senator. The list goes on."

A spokesperson said that Grassley is likely to have some tough questions for Donovan at the hearing.

The Democratic chairwoman of the Budget committee, though, offered effusive praise for Donovan.

“As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Donovan has been a strong manager, taking on challenges like overseeing the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy and working to stabilize the housing market,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“Secretary Donovan has excelled in his current position, and his proven leadership and experience make him a terrific choice to lead the OMB,” she added.

Donovan will also have a confirmation hearing at the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee given his slated role overseeing the management of federal agencies and the regulatory process.