Senate to confirm Trump budget chief


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate is poised to confirm President Donald Trump’s choice to run the White House budget office on Thursday and is on track to give his controversial pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency a vote of confidence as well.

Mick Mulvaney, a tea party lawmaker from South Carolina, is set for a narrow confirmation to the budget office on Thursday despite opposition from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.

McCain says Mulvaney has a “poor record on defense spending” that is “fundamentally at odds with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military.”

The votes come a day after Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department, Andrew Puzder, abruptly withdrew his nomination in the face of Republican opposition. Puzder faced questions over taxes he belatedly paid on a former housekeeper not authorized to work in the United States.

Mulvaney has managed to survive questions about his failure to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a nanny more than decade ago. He has since paid the taxes.

Immediately after the confirmation of Mulvaney, the Senate will turn to EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, the staunchly conservative Oklahoma attorney general. He should easily clear a procedural tally, but Maine Republican Susan Collins says she’ll oppose him on a subsequent confirmation vote.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 52-48 along party lines to advance Mulvaney to a final, up-or-down vote Thursday. McCain voted to advance Mulvaney while making his opposition clear.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi is grudgingly supporting Mulvaney after expressing reservations about the congressman Wednesday morning.

“He’s never been a friend of the Appropriations Committee,” Cochran said earlier. “I don’t think he’s ever (liked) an appropriations bill.”

But Cochran’s spokesman, Chris Gallegos, said Wednesday afternoon that the 38-year Senate veteran will vote for Mulvaney.

Pruitt is vehemently opposed by environmental activists and almost every Democrat. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., supports him, balancing out Collins, who says she doesn’t trust him to protect human health and the environment.

Pruitt has sued the EPA numerous times to try to overturn Obama administration regulations.

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