Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said today he will vote against Rep. Mick Mulvaney's (R-SC) nomination to become the next director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget on the grounds that Mulvaney, a prominent deficit hawk, will force the Pentagon into a budget battle.
McCain, in a speech on the Senate floor, said confirming Mulvaney would require Defense Secretary Jim 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."
Additionally, McCain said Mulvaney's beliefs, "as revealed by his poor record on defense spending," are at odds with President Trump's stated desire to increase military budgets.
"This record cannot be ignored in light of the significant authority exercised by the director of OMB over the federal budget," McCain said, pointing out that Mulvaney, as a member of the House, repeatedly voted to cut defense spending and also supported the total withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
"Congressman Mulvaney has spent his last six years in the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our military," McCain said. "He authored and supported amendments to cut national defense funding year, after year, after year. And as my colleagues and I sought repeatedly to find legislative solutions to reverse dangerous defense cuts and eliminate arbitrary defense spending caps, it was Congressman Mulvaney and his allies that repeatedly sought to torpedo these efforts."
Mulvaney, for his part, said during confirmation hearings he would support any plans Trump put forth to increase defense spending, but would advocate cuts in non-defense spending to pay for them.
Mulvaney has also said he supports eliminating the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which some analysts think might be the only mechanism available to increase defense spending above the caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The Senate is expected to take a final vote on Mulvaney's nomination Thursday.