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Mulvaney confirmation vote set for Thursday morning

Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney is in the final hours of what is now an unusually long, drawn-out confirmation process to become President Donald Trump's budget chief.

The Senate is expected to confirm the South Carolina Republican around dawn Thursday. The margin is likely to be slim, with no Democrat voting for him.

It's been a long wait for confirmation.

"The longest it has ever taken to approve a first budget director for a new president was one week," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. "One week. We're now in week four, with little or no movement."

Trump wanted Mulvaney in office before now. The president has scheduled an address to both houses of Congress on Feb. 28, and was said to want a "skinny budget" outlining how to pay for his top priorities as president in general terms. Mulvaney would, ideally, prepare that document, and would have to defend it before Congress.

Whether he'll have the time or expertise to do so is a question.

Longtime Washington budget analyst Stan Collender, a frequent Republican critic, said Trump wouldn't be hurt too badly by even further delays in filling the post.

"Only if Trump is planning on submitting a 2018 budget, and that's not clear," he wrote in an email response to a question on whether this delay would be a problem for the new administration. Fiscal 2018 begins Oct. 1, but Congress is supposed to pass a blueprint for that budget by April 15.

Mulvaney has been slowed by a confirmation process that has taken longer than usual because of Democratic delaying tactics. Several Cabinet posts remain open; none of Trump's nominees have been defeated, although Andy Puzder, tapped to head the Labor Department, withdrew his nomination Wednesday.

Enzi said that even last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had noted that "this is the slowest time for a new Cabinet to be up and running since President George Washington. And that was last week. It's even slower than that, and we're not done."

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