Politics & Government

SC’s Mulvaney to be named Trump’s budget chief

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., questions Mylan CEO Heather Bresch on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 21, 2016.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., questions Mylan CEO Heather Bresch on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 21, 2016. AP

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to a senior transition official who has knowledge of the appointment but is not authorized to speak publicly.

The announcement is expected to be made by statement Monday. Mulvaney would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

If confirmed, Mulvaney would be just the latest official in Trump’s inner circle with S.C. ties.

Gov. Nikki Haley has been nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, recently were named as advisers to Trump’s transition team.

Mulvaney had expressed an interest in running OMB when asked by a constituent on Facebook Oct. 19 where he would like to serve in a hypothetical Trump cabinet.

“I would love to be the director of OMB,” he wrote. “That is where I think REAL improvements could be made in how the government is run.”

A fiscal conservative, Mulvaney is a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 lawmakers that helped push House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio to resign, and a member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mulvaney was not an early Trump backer during the presidential campaign. He initially supported U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. for the Republican nomination. Mulvaney endorsed Trump in June, hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. did the same.

Special election?

Mulvaney, who has represented South Carolina’s 5th District since 2011, won re-election in November after being challenged by Fran Person, a former aide to Vice President Joe Biden.

If Mulvaney is confirmed, a special election will have to be held to fill his congressional seat in a district that favors Republicans.

South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney grilled Mylan CEO Heather Bresch during the congressional hearing regarding the high price increases of Epipens by the company. "If you want to come to Washington, if you want to come to the state capitol a

State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-York, said Friday he would run if a vacancy occurs. Norman ran for the seat in 2006, losing to then-U.S. Rep. John Spratt, a Democrat.

“This seat will be hotly contested and that’s a good thing,” Norman said, adding that gives voters a choice.

Other possible GOP candidates include former S.C. GOP chair Chad Connelly, and York County state Reps. Tommy Pope and Gary Simrill.

Connelly said Friday he has received calls from across the district, asking him to run. “We’ll make a decision after Christmas.”

S.C. House Speaker Pro Tempore Pope of York seemed less inclined to run, saying his focus continues to be on how he best can serve in South Carolina. “I do not anticipate that the Pope family would be going to Washington.”

Simrill said he has been encouraged by many to run. “My family and I will be discussing this opportunity to determine where I can best serve the South Carolina citizens.”

On the Democratic side, Person and state Rep. John King of Rock Hill said they are considering running. Person, who lost to Mulvaney by 20 points in November, said he would begin to seriously consider running again after Christmas.

A spokesman for state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, another potential candidate, said the Kershaw County Democrat “is happy serving as a S.C. state senator.” But, he added, Sheheen “will take some time to think things over the next few weeks.”

A job for policy wonks

Mulvaney traveled to Trump Tower in New York to meet with Trump last week. At the time, transition spokesman Jason Miller described Mulvaney as having “a very proven track record as a fiscal conservative and a government reformer.”

Mulvaney declined to comment after the meeting. His office did not respond Friday.

The OMB chief, often shorthanded as the budget director, will help Trump prepare his annual proposed budget. That could be crucial to Trump’s policy initiatives, such as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The budget director and the Office of Management and Budget also measure the performance of federal agencies. They also help set and enforce policies and practices governing the government’s purchase of goods and services, called procurement. On a more mundane level, the office also oversees the performance review process for agencies and federal employees.

The job tends to be held by policy wonks, but some do gain fame or notoriety.

Ronald Reagan’s budget chief David Stockman was an advocate for what became known as Reaganomics and remains a public figure decades later. Like Mulvaney, Stockman was a congressman before becoming budget director.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, whose views on cutting government spending are similar to Mulvaney’s, left the U.S. House before taking the budget director’s job under President George W. Bush. He later was elected to the Senate.

Leon Panetta, who ran OMB under President Bill Clinton, also had been a member of the House before accepting the position. He then was Clinton’s chief of staff and later, under President Barack Obama, CIA director and secretary of defense.

Cassie Cope, Kevin G. Hall and Avery Wilks contributed.

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