Senate Clears Proponent of Workforce Cuts as Trump’s Budget Director

Mulvaney testifies on Capitol Hill in January. Mulvaney testifies on Capitol Hill in January. Carolyn Kaster/AP

The Senate on Thursday approved President Trump’s candidate to lead the Office of Management and Budget, as the administration is reportedly drafting an executive order that will require agencies to identify programs and administrative functions that are duplicative and could be consolidated. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., got through in a largely party-line vote of 51-49.

Mulvaney, who acknowledged that he had improperly failed to pay taxes on hiring of a long-time child care provider for his triplets, was lauded by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., as a champion of coming efforts to reduce the $20 trillion debt at a time of “anemic” economic growth and reduce duplication and better inventory programs.

Trump “has been without a budget director longer than any other president in the last 40 years,” Enzi said. “The longest in the past was one week, and now we’re in week four with little movement." The government “was supposed to get a budget by today, but that’s impossible because he doesn’t have anybody to do the budget,” Enzi added.

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Democrats had said they opposed Mulvaney because of his actions during the 2013 budget stalemate to force through legislation they say he knew would cause the government to shut down.

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Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also voted against Mulvaney, after blasting him for prioritizing sequestration’s military cuts. “Congressman Mulvaney’s beliefs, as revealed by his poor record on defense spending, are fundamentally at odds with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military,” McCain said. “And this record cannot be ignored in light of the significant authority exercised by the director of OMB over the federal budget.”

One of Mulvaney’s many early tasks will be massaging the reported executive order to reorganize agencies to curb duplication, according to Federal News Radio. President Obama had proposed a reorganization to merge business-related agencies and programs.

The OMB chief, along with the director of the Office of Personnel Management, will also be in charge of arriving at a long-term plan for reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition. Trump’s executive order announcing a governmentwide hiring freeze gave OMB and OPM 90 days to come up with this strategy.

The nonprofit Partnership for Public Service congratulated Mulvaney on his nomination, in a statement.

“Effective government requires coordination from the center, and OMB is best positioned to provide that leadership,” said Max Stier, the group’s president and CEO. “By focusing on innovation and collaboration, OMB has the opportunity to lead more effectively while fulfilling important government-wide policy, regulatory and management obligations.”

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