Mulvaney tells department heads to stay quiet amid budget rollout

Mulvaney tells department heads to stay quiet amid budget rollout
© Greg Nash

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney is warning the heads of departments and agencies to limit remarks on spending levels for next year.

A memo obtained by The Hill notes that in the coming weeks, many department leaders will testify before congressional committees regarding the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget blueprint.

“Until OMB releases the full FY 2018 Budget,” the memo, sent Friday, says, “all public comments of any sort should be limited to the information contained in the Budget Blueprint chapter for your agency.”

The letter adds, “It is critically important that you not make commitments about specific programs if they are not expressly mentioned in the Budget Blueprint.

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“Similarly, you should not address account-level details. Comments on such specifics need to wait until the release of the full Budget.

“Agency officials appearing as witnesses in authorization, appropriations, or oversight hearings should defer any questions related to the full Budget until after the Budget is released.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations Committee this week to discuss the budget for the Department of Education, but that hearing has been postponed.

Mulvaney’s letter notes a “strong preference that only heads of executive Departments and Agencies or the Acting Head of the Department or Agency should testify on the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint.”

President Trump last Thursday made public his first federal budget blueprint, revealing a plan to dramatically reduce the size of government.

The document calls for deep cuts at departments and agencies that would eliminate entire programs and slash the size of the federal workforce. It also proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, which the White House says will be offset by the other cuts.