Trump Picks Acting Budget Chief Russ Vought as OMB Director

President Donald Trump will nominate his acting budget director, Russ Vought, to serve as permanent director of the Office of Management and Budget. 

Trump announced Wednesday that he intends to nominate Vought, who was a fiscal conservative long before joining the administration.

The move comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and skyrocketing levels of federal spending to stem both the health and economic crises arising from it. 

Vought has been acting budget director since the confirmed OMB chief, Mick Mulvaney, became acting White House chief of staff in January 2019. Trump recently nominated Mulvaney to become U.S. ambassador to Northern Ireland. 

Vought, 43, was vice president of Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation, before joining the Trump administration. 

“Russ is and will always be part of the Heritage family. We are proud of him and grateful to the president for nominating a staunch conservative like Russ,” Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James said in a statement, adding: 

While a Capitol Hill staffer, Russ served as an example to countless young conservatives on how to best advise members of Congress to stick to their principles.

At Heritage Action, he pioneered new forms of grassroots activism, and connected and inspired tens of thousands of the conservative movement’s best and brightest activists.

Since joining OMB, Russ has overseen the delivery of four of the most conservative presidential budgets to date. He has been an integral part of an administration that has fought fearlessly for life and liberty.

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.

The Office of Management and Budget is in charge of writing the president’s annual budget proposal and overseeing fiscal policy in the executive branch.

Vought also was involved in much of the Trump administration’s aggressive deregulation efforts.  

Vought officially became deputy OMB director in March 2018.  He began his career on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant to then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.

He was also the budget chief of the Republican Study Committee—the largest conference of House conservatives—under its chairman at the time, then-Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. 

Vought was policy director for the House Republican Conference under its chairman at the time, then-Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., from 2009 through 2011. Pence, of course, is now vice president.                  

Vought made news in June 2017 when Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attacked him for his Christian faith at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on his confirmation as deputy director of OMB. Sanders brought up an article that Vought wrote about Christianity and Islam, which the senator characterized as “Islamaphobic.” 

After an exchange that veered into a theological discussion between Vought and Sanders unrelated to the federal budget, Sanders said: “This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.”                    

After the interaction, more than 50,000 people signed an online petition from the Family Research Council calling on Sanders to apologize. He did not do so.    

For a time, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, placed a hold on Vought’s confirmation as a way to gain more federal disaster relief for Texas after Hurricane Harvey struck in the late summer of 2017.

The Senate confirmed him as deputy OMB director in February 2018. It was Pence, as vice president, who cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm Vought.      

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