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WASHINGTON – Mick Mulvaney was sworn in Thursday evening as White House budget director, putting him in the pivotal role as the Trump administration formulates its first spending plans.
The U.S. Senate confirmed the Indian Land Republican’s nomination on a 51-49 vote Thursday morning, and Gov. Henry McMaster accepted Mulvaney’s resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives just after noon.
A special election will now be held to fill the 5th District congressional seat, with a primary on May 2, a party runoff if needed on May 16, and the general election on June 20. So far, six Republicans have announced they will campaign for the seat, but no Democrats.
After the confirmation vote, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) praised Trump’s selection.
“I can’t think of a better person than Mick to bring our country back to fiscal discipline,” Scott said. “He is an excellent leader and someone who has consistently represented conservative principles, especially when it comes to our budget.
“I am confident he will responsibly address our nation’s $20 trillion debt with the same passion he has shown in Congress and restore fiscal sanity here in Washington. I am excited to work with Mick in his new role.”
The Senate vote broke along party lines, with all Democrats voting against Mulvaney, as they have with most of Trump’s cabinet picks.
They opposed Mulvaney over concerns that his recommendations as White House budget chief might cut back on Medicare and Social Security. He has long advocated changing the two entitlement programs to keep them solvent.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona was the only GOP defector to vote against Mulvaney.
McCain issued a statement Wednesday that he would oppose the nomination due to Mulvaney’s record on military spending.
“This is about principle,” McCain said. “This is about my conviction as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that providing for the common defense is our highest constitutional duty, and that rebuilding our military must be the No. 1 priority of the Congress and the White House.”
As director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney will have one of the most influential positions in the executive branch.
He will oversee a staff of 500 that prepares the president’s budget and also oversees policy implementation at all executive-branch agencies. Mulvaney would be in a position to pursue his oft-stated priorities of slashing government spending and reducing the national debt.
Mulvaney expressed interest in the job of OMB director Oct. 19 while responding to a constituent’s question on Facebook about what position he’d like to have in a Trump administration.
“I would love to be the Director of OMB…,” Mulvaney responded. “That is where I think REAL improvements could be made in how the government is run.”
Mulvaney is the second S.C. politician appointed to a top job in the Trump administration. Gov. Nikki Haley is the president’s new United Nations ambassador.
Mulvaney was first elected to Congress in 2010, riding the Tea Party wave to defeat 14-term incumbent Democrat John Spratt.
Six Republican candidates have declared intentions to seek the state’s now-vacant 5th District congressional seat.
They include former state GOP Chairman Chad Connelly, state Reps. Tommy Pope and Ralph Norman of York County, State Guard commander Tom Mullikin of Camden, education activist Sheri Few of Lugoff and Indian Land attorney Kris Wampler. Norman resigned his S.C. House seat Thursday.
So far, no Democratic candidates have announced intentions to run.
The filing period for the seat is noon March 3 to noon March 13 and candidates must file at the state elections commission in Columbia.