Finance

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 McCain (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.
 
{mosads}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. 
 
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Mulvaney played an “active role” in opposing the compromise. 
 
“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 Reid (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 Cochran (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 McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the Senate floor. 
Tags Harry Reid John McCain Mitch McConnell Thad Cochran Tim Kaine

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