Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said he will not vote for President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the government’s budget agency.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, is more concerned with saving taxpayer money than supporting the military, McCain said on the Senate floor Wednesday. Mulvaney’s confirmation vote in the Senate is scheduled for Thursday.
“Congressman Mulvaney has spent his last six years in the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our military,” McCain said, citing several instances where Tea Party congressman from South Carolina voted for defense budget cuts.
McCain is not the only Republican senator who is concerned with Mulvaney’s tough view of the budget. Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who chairs the Senate Committee on Appropriations, has reportedly voiced opposition to Mulvaney’s nomination, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins has not made a “final decision” on whether to support Trump’s pick, CNN reported Wednesday.
If three Republicans withdraw their support from Mulvaney and no Democrats vote for him, he will lose the nomination.
Trump has said that strengthening the military is more important than balancing the budget and is committed to ending budget caps. McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, agrees. “I fully support the President’s commitment. I fear Congressman Mulvaney does not,” McCain said.
Giving Mulvaney authority to write the president’s budget and advise the administration on fiscal policy would continue six years of “Washington dysfunction,” which has “imposed very real consequences on the thousands of Americans serving in uniform,” McCain said.
The military has been weakened by years of mandatory spending cuts, according to McCain, and forcing the Department of Defense to continue fighting for every dollar would prohibit Defense Secretary Jim Mattis from doing his job.
“Congressman Mulvaney’s beliefs, as revealed by his poor record on defense spending, are fundamentally at odds with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military,” McCain said.
“Voting in favor of Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination would be asking Secretary Mattis to spend less time fighting our enemies overseas and more time fighting inside-the-beltway budget battles with an OMB Director with a deep ideological commitment to cutting the resources available to his department,” McCain said.
“My decision to oppose this nomination is not about one person,” McCain said. “It is not about one Cabinet position. This is not personal. This is not political. This is about principle.”
Trump’s ambitious plans to expand the military include expanding the Navy fleet to 350 ships, an acquisition project that could cost around $750 billion over 30 years.
The U.S. spent $584 billion on defense in 2016 according to the Congressional Budget Office, which is nearly half of all discretionary spending.
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