GOP bashes Obama on $17T debt while vetting budget nominee

Senate Republicans on Wednesday bashed President Obama for the $17 trillion national debt as they vetted his nominee for budget director.

Republicans used the two confirmation hearings for Shaun DonovanShaun L. S. DonovanHouse Dems call on OMB to analyze Senate budget plan Overnight Finance: Dems turn up heat on Wells Fargo | New rules for prepaid cards | Justices dig into insider trading law GOP reps warn Obama against quickly finalizing tax rules MORE, who is now secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to put Obama's fiscal record on trial.

"This deficit, financial situation is nowhere close to being fixed," said Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump distances himself from Rosenstein by saying Sessions hired him Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.

Despite the criticism, Donovan appears to be headed for an easy confirmation, given the new 50-vote threshold in the Senate for votes on executive branch appointees.

Donovan has been nominated to fill the top spot at the Office of Management and Budget to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellPrice was a disaster for HHS — Time for an administrator, not an ideologue Overnight Healthcare: GOP chairman to introduce pre-existing condition bill ObamaCare enrollment hits 11.5M for 2017 MORE, who is now Health and Human Services secretary.

At the Homeland Security Committee, ranking member Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnJohn McCain was a taxpayer hero The White House can — and should — bypass Congress to kill Obama-era spending Trump cannot be 'King of Debt' when it comes to government MORE (R-Okla.) said he had “no doubt” that Donovan would win confirmation, but said he wanted Donovan to be more responsive to congressional inquiries than he has been at HUD.

“For me that is a troubling track record,” he said.

At Senate Budget, Sessions criticized Donovan for his track record managing HUD’s resources.

“His time at HUD was Mr. Donovan’s only real experience managing a budget. But there is nothing in his track record there, or anywhere else, demonstrating a strong commitment to financial discipline, a particular skill in managing taxpayer dollars, or a passion for saving money,” Sessions said.

“Indeed, Mr. Donovan’s time at HUD was marred by a series of Inspector General reports raising questions about his management of even this small department.”

Sessions cited a May 30 report from the HUD inspector general which found HUD to be improperly using more than $600,000 to pay a Donovan adviser.

“I was really rather shocked by it,” Sessions said.

Donovan replied that he was “not directly involved or aware of how this employee was paid.”

Sessions also queried Donovan about IG reports HUD’s use of the Obama stimulus, Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program and Multifamily Project Refinances.

“You’ve been there quite a number of years. I don’t know that we’ve seen yet the commitment, the dedication, the drive, the real imperative to get this government under control,” he said.

In contrast, Donovan won praise from Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsKavanaugh accuser set to testify Thursday McConnell told Trump criticism of Kavanaugh accuser isn't helpful: report Dems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage MORE (R-Maine.), who introduced him at the Homeland Security Committee and said she intended to support his nomination.   Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-La.) said Donovan has been the best HUD secretary yet, better even than her own father Moon Landrieu. She said she told her father that.

“Shaun gets embarrassed and my dad doesn’t like it, but it is true,” Sen. Landrieu said.