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Senate to confirm Trump budget chief

Senate to confirm Trump budget chief

WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled Senate is poised to confirm President Donald Trump’s choice to run the White House budget office on Thursday and is on track to give his controversial pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency a vote of confidence as well.

Mick Mulvaney, a tea party lawmaker from South Carolina, is set for a narrow confirmation to the budget office on Thursday despite opposition from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.

McCain says Mulvaney has a “poor record on defence spending” that is “fundamentally at odds with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military.”

Immediately after the confirmation of Mulvaney, the Senate will turn to EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, the staunchly conservative Oklahoma attorney general. He should easily clear a procedural tally, but Maine Republican Susan Collins says she’ll oppose him on a subsequent confirmation vote.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 52-48 along party lines to advance Mulvaney to a final, up-or-down vote Thursday. McCain voted to advance Mulvaney while making his opposition clear.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi is grudgingly supporting Mulvaney after expressing reservations about the congressman Wednesday morning.

“He’s never been a friend of the Appropriations Committee,” Cochran said earlier. “I don’t think he’s ever (liked) an appropriations bill.”

But Cochran’s spokesman, Chris Gallegos, said Wednesday afternoon that the 38-year Senate veteran will vote for Mulvaney.

Pruitt is vehemently opposed by environmental activists and almost every Democrat. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., supports him, balancing out Collins, who says she doesn’t trust him to protect human health and the environment.

Pruitt has sued the EPA numerous times to try to overturn Obama administration regulations.

The Senate is moving slowly on Trump’s Cabinet. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Wednesday that continued delays are putting the chamber on course to “working well into the weekend.”

Delays in processing Mulvaney’s nomination appear to be contributing to a lag in producing Trump’s much-awaited budget plan for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Trump’s plans are unknown, but Mulvaney and a top staff aide bring staunchly conservative credentials to their posts.

Mulvaney is reportedly eyeing sharp cuts to domestic agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, but Trump has indicated he’s not interested in tackling highly popular benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press