Se­na­tors inch for­ward with pres­i­dent’s Cabi­net picks.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NEWS - By Andrew Tay­lor

WASHINGTON >> The Se­nate on Thurs­day con­firmed Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick to run the White House bud­get of­fice, giv­ing the Repub­li­cans’ tea party wing a voice in the Cabi­net. Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, R-S.C., squeaked through on a 51-49 vote in the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate. He was sworn in later Thurs­day by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

Ari­zona Sen. John McCain, who is emerg­ing as per­haps the most vo­cal Repub­li­can critic of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, op­posed Mul­vaney for the nom­i­nee’s past House votes sup­port­ing cuts to Pen­tagon spend­ing. “Mul­vaney has spent his last six years in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives pit­ting the na­tional debt against our mil­i­tary,” said McCain, chair­man of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. Se­na­tors then gave a ten­ta­tive 54-46 pro­ce­dural green light to Trump’s choice to run the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Ok­la­homa At­tor­ney Gen­eral Scott Pruitt. It was a sig­nal that Pruitt should sail through on a fi­nal vote sched­uled for to­day, de­spite be­ing op­posed by Maine Sen. Su­san Collins, a GOP mod­er­ate. Demo­cratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, two of the party’s more mod­er­ate mem­bers, backed Pruitt.

Mul­vaney’s vote means that 13 out of 22 Trump Cabi­net or Cabi­net-level picks have been con­firmed. Nom­i­nees to key Cabi­net de­part­ments such as In­te­rior, Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment, and En­ergy re­main un­con­firmed. Mul­vaney’s con­fir­ma­tion prom­ises to ac­cel­er­ate work on Trump’s up­com­ing bud­get plan, which is over­due. That’s typ­i­cal at the be­gin­ning of an ad­min­is­tra­tion. But there is also the need to com­plete more than $1 tril­lion in un­fin­ished spend­ing bills for the cur­rent bud­get year, as well as trans­mit Trump’s re­quest for a quick start on his oft-promised U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der wall and tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in emer­gency cash for the mil­i­tary.

Mul­vaney has rou­tinely op­posed catchall ap­pro­pri­a­tions bills, which re­quired Repub­li­cans to com­pro­mise with the Obama White House. The up­com­ing mea­sure is also go­ing to re­quire deals with Democrats. Mul­vaney brings strong con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials to the job, and he’s likely to seek big cuts to long­time GOP tar­gets such as the EPA and other do­mes­tic pro­grams whose bud­gets are set each year by Congress. Democrats op­posed Mul­vaney over his sup­port for curb­ing the growth of Medi­care and So­cial Se­cu­rity and other is­sues, such as his brinks­man­ship as a fresh­man law­maker dur­ing the 2011 debt cri­sis in which the gov­ern­ment came un­com­fort­ably close to de­fault­ing on U.S. obli­ga­tions.


Mick Mul­vaney

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