OMB Staffs Up as Trump Team Preps Agencies for Budget Cuts

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks about the Trump Administration's budget proposal March 16. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks about the Trump Administration's budget proposal March 16. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As the White House prepares agencies for absorbing large-scale spending cuts, President Trump on Friday fleshed out his budget team, naming a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and a regulatory administrator.

Trump tapped the vice president for the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action for America, Russell Vought, to serve as deputy to budget director Mick Mulvaney. A 12-year Capitol Hill Republican staffer and attorney, Vought has been policy director for the House Republican Conference (working under then-Rep. and now-Vice President Mike Pence) and previously was executive director of the Republican Study Committee.

Vought also served as the Republican Study Committee’s budget director and a legislative aide to Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who retired in 2002. “I’m a conservative first and then a Republican,” Vought told Washingtonian in 2008. “I believe very strongly that Americans should be able to pursue their own happiness and have freedom to do that, have the freedom to choose prosperity and work toward it.”

Slated to run Trump’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is Neomi Rao, a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington, Va. She founded a project there called the Center for the Study of the Administrative State. Previously, Rao was associate counsel to President George W. Bush; counsel for nominations and constitutional law to the Senate Judiciary Committee and law clerk to Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

Rao is one of two Indian-Americans Trump named this month, the other being House Judiciary Committee Senior Counsel Vishal Amin to be White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

Budget chief Mulvaney, meanwhile, was reported by Axios to be preparing new guidance for agencies this week instructing them to “create plans to make themselves significantly smaller and less costly” as part of Trump’s ongoing efficiency push.

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