Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget director, told lawmakers at a Senate budget hearing Tuesday that if he were still in Congress, he would not vote for the $4.4 trillion proposal he was presenting.
Mulvaney, a former member of the House who oversees the administration’s budget priorities, faced a grilling from senators over the White House’s 2019 budget proposal, which seeks to increase military spending, fund a new border wall and slash entitlement spending, among other priorities.
“If you were in Congress, would you have voted for this budget that you’re presenting?” asked Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“As a member of Congress representing the 5th District of South Carolina, I probably would have found enough shortcomings in this to vote against it,” said Mulvaney, who also serves as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “But I’m the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and my job is to fund the president’s priorities, which is exactly what we did.”
Mulvaney was elected to the House in 2011 before he was tapped to serve as Trump’s budget czar last year. Mulvaney has raised concerns in the past about the nation’s debt and deficit. He told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the two-year spending deal the president recently signed could be “very dangerous” for the deficit.
Murray continued to press Mulvaney about the proposal during the hearing.
“So you would say this is a no, as a member of Congress?” she asked.
“Yeah, I think I’ve said that before,” Mulvaney said. “I don’t think that reflects on my opinion of it as a member of the administration.”
“OK,” she said, laughing.
“I’m just trying to give an honest answer to an honest question,” he said.
However, Meghan Burris, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in an email that Mulvaney was referring to the recent “caps deal” and not the president’s budget — even though Murray specifically asked if he would vote for the budget, and Mulvaney made no mention of the caps deal in his answer.
“Just to be clear, Director Mulvaney was referring to the recent caps deal when answering Senator Murray’s question this morning,” she said. “Naturally, he would vote for the president’s FY19 budget that he released yesterday.”
Murray later tweeted that “it was nice to hear an honest answer” from Mulvaney in the budget hearing.
“I asked if he would vote for President Trump’s budget if he were in Congress, and he said that he wouldn’t,” she said. “That’s one thing we agree on!”