Trump’s budget chief pick approved by Senate committees

Trump’s budget chief pick approved by Senate committees
© Greg Nash

President Trump's nominee to lead the White House budget office cleared his first hurdle Thursday morning as two Senate committees backed his nomination.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Rep. Mick Mulvaney's (R-S.C.) nomination to be Office of Management and Budget director in an 8-7 vote. The committee voted to let full Senate decide without a formal recommendation.

The panel was initially scheduled to vote on Mulvaney on Wednesday, but delayed the vote after Ranking Member Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri New Members 2019 2020 politics make an immigration deal unlikely in lame-duck Mellman: The triumph of partisanship MORE (D-Mo.) asked for more time to review the nominee's FBI file.

The Senate Budget Committee also voted to approve Mulvaney's nomination 12 to 11, along party lines with a formal recommendation.

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Mulvaney, a fiscal hawk, was widely praised by Republicans for fighting against government spending. Democrats panned him for his stances on entitlement reform, which they called cruel and extreme.

The South Carolina congressman cruised through hearings before the Homeland Security and Budget committees last month with little issue. Democrats criticized Mulvaney for initially failing to pay taxes on a nanny, which he said was an oversight that he corrected as soon as he realized he made a mistake.

Mulvaney also agreed to support additional military spending, appeasing Republican defense hawks worried he'd prioritize the debt over national security.

Republicans are looking toward Mulvaney to balance some of President Trump's ambitious spending agenda. Trump backs a massive tax cut, infrastructure spending and a military buildup without entitlement reform.

Mulvaney said he'd push Trump to consider cost-saving changes to Social Security and Medicare, two programs driving the debt higher, but would ultimately defend the president's decisions.

Democrats tried to hold Mulvaney to Trump's promise not to touch entitlement benefits, saying the congressman's record is incompatible with Trump's campaign pledge.

Updated at 11:22 a.m.