The U.S. Senate voted 51-49 to confirm U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina as President Trump’s new budget chief Thursday, less than two weeks before the president is expected to present a pared-down “skinny” budget to Congress.
Mulvaney, known as a fiscal hard-liner, was confirmed despite the opposition of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cited the S.C. Republican’s inability to remember voting for a defense spending cut when questioned at his confirmation hearing.
“Mulvaney has spent his last six years in the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our military,” said McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman.
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.
“He said to me in a one-on-one meeting how he would prioritize the debts he would pay if he defaulted,” said U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. “Wouldn’t that be a great addition to the chaos we are all feeling right now?”
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.
Mulvaney also faced questions during two confirmation hearings about failing to pay federal taxes on a babysitter he had employed in 2000 until after his nomination in mid-December. That, he said, was a mistake he rectified when it was brought to his attention.
Mulvaney has represented South Carolina’s 5th District in Congress since 2011. His resignation from that post sets up a crowded Republican primary for the 5th District seat.