The Senate voted 51-49 to confirm Rep. Mick Mulvaney of SC as the government's new budget chief Thursday, less than two weeks before the president is expected to present a pared-down "skinny" budget to Congress at the end of the month.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on January 24. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, denounced him as a danger to national security, and joined Democrats in voting against him.
Mulvaney, a member of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, has voted for spending cuts to balance the federal budget as well as for rollbacks of environmental rules meant to combat climate change and of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
So far McCain is the only GOP Senator to publicly announce his opposition to Mulvaney's nomination.
Pence was needed to break such a tie over Betsy DeVos to be education secretary.
Mulvaney's confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate does not yet appear to be in jeopardy.
But when asked about that vote during his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mulvaney said he didn't remember that amendment. A Senate panel only narrowly backed the nominee this month in a party-line vote. About a dozen Republican senators had voiced reservations about the nominee. "In my time serving in Congress, Mick Mulvaney is truly one of the sharpest minds and most principled men I have come to know".
"Not only has he advocated for cutting benefits, he wants to jack up the retirement age for Medicare to 67, and for Social Security, he wants to raise it to 70", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.