President-elect Donald Trump chose Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Trump announced his choice in an emailed statement Saturday.
Since arriving in Congress as part of the Republican tea party wave elected in 2010, Mulvaney has been one of the most aggressive advocates for cutting government spending.
“The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax-and-spend financial agenda,” Mulvaney said in the statement. “Each day, families across our nation make disciplined choices about how to spend their hard earned money, and the federal government should exercise the same discretion that hardworking Americans do every day.”
In 2011 he co-authored a measure passed by the House that would have cut spending while conditioning a $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling increase on passage of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget and make it harder to raise taxes.
He also helped lead an effort to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown in 2013. As OMB director, he would be in charge of the office in charge of implementing future shutdowns should they occur.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who will be the ranking minority member of the House Budget Committee next year, called Mulvaney a friend and said he put in some good words for him with Trump’s transition team at Mulvaney’s request. But he added that he has some concerns about Mulvaney as OMB chief.
“The one problem I would have with him is I know that when we shut the government down a few years ago, he was one who said that it’s OK to shut the government down,” Yarmuth on C-SPAN. “I’d like to hear him in confirmation hearings say one of the directives of a budget director is to avoid shutting the government down, and avoid defaulting on the national debt.”
Mulvaney has also angered some fellow conservatives for his efforts to cut certain Pentagon spending, including writing a 2012 amendment with Barney Frank, who then was a congressman from Massachusetts, that would have frozen defense spending.
“We need to stop measuring our commitment to national defense by how much we spend, and look more closely at how we spend our money,” Mulvaney said in a 2013 op-ed article.
Some Republicans in Congress are demanding more defense spending, and the president-elect has promised to invest more in the military.
Mulvaney helped create the House Freedom Caucus — a group of about three dozen spending hawks that battled with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, over his compromises with moderates and Democrats on spending bills. Boehner resigned last year and his successor, Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he wouldn’t take the job unless he had Freedom Caucus support.
Mulvaney was also among the House Republicans who refused to pay dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee, complaining that the group was too close to the party establishment and might be working against some conservatives in primaries.
Mulvaney is on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After working in private legal practice and in his family’s homebuilding business, he became an owner-operator of a regional restaurant chain.
Mulvaney entered politics when he was elected to the South Carolina House in 2006. He had been considered as a potential candidate for governor of South Carolina in 2018, but Trump’s selection of current Gov. Nikki Haley to be United Nations ambassador could lift the current lieutenant governor into the spot and make it harder for others to run.