Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief

Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief
© Greg Nash
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
 
The chamber voted 51-49 to approve Mulvaney. He needed a simple majority to be confirmed.
 
With a 52-seat majority, Republicans had little room for error to confirm Mulvaney after Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral Trump's approval rating stable at 45 percent GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' MORE (R-Ariz.) announced he would vote against him. 
 
The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman on Wednesday stressed that his opposition wasn't personal, but he accused Mulvaney of working to "torpedo" the Senate's efforts to increase defense spending. 
 
"Voting in favor of Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination would be asking Secretary Mattis to spend less time fighting our enemies overseas and more time fighting inside-the-beltway budget battles with an OMB director," McCain said from the Senate floor.
 
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Democrats also blasted Mulvaney ahead of the vote over his position on defense spending, his stances on an entitlement reform and his opposition to a 2013 bill to avoid a government shutdown. 
 
 
"The unwillingness to embrace a bipartisan compromise, even after the Government of the United States shut down, troubles me significantly," he said. 
 
Democrats included Mulvaney on a list of top targets, and his nomination wasn't without controversy. He failed to pay more than $15,000 in state and federal unemployment taxes on a household employee, according to a questionnaire he provided to the Senate Budget Committee.
 
But Democrats don't have the manpower to block any of President Trump's nominees on their own. Under a 2013 decision led by then-Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBernie campaign 2.0 - he's in it to win it, this time around Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Senate confirms Trump court pick despite missing two 'blue slips' MORE (D-Nev.), executive-branch nominees only need a simple majority. 
 
Mulvaney appeared to shore up his nomination on Wednesday after two Republicans who had been undecided — Sens. Susan Colllins (Maine) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy MORE (Miss.) — announced they would back his nomination. 
 
Collins said Mulvaney told her during a closed-door meeting that being OMB director would be "very different" than representing a conservative House district. 
 
"I thought that was a good answer," she told reporters. "I talked to him about his positions on defense spending, the fact that he has never voted for a budget or debt limit increase."
 
The OMB chief is responsible for administering the federal budget and measuring the performance of federal agencies. Mulvaney would also be tasked with procurement or setting and enforcing federal practices and policies regarding the purchase of goods and services. 
 
GOP leadership quickly rallied around Trump's pick, arguing he would be able to help rein in the government's spending. 
 
Republicans are also hoping that Mulvaney could balance some of Trump's ambitious spending plans, including a massive tax cut and infrastructure spending. 
 
"Mulvaney knows that making government more effective and accountable is conducive to economic growth and he knows that getting our fiscal house in order goes hand in hand with compassion," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism MORE (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor.