In Mick Mulvaney, Trump Finds Anti-Establishment Leader for Budget Office

The team includes at Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner turned hedge fund manager who has spoken favorably of infrastructure spending that Mr. Mulvaney has opposed; a commerce secretary nominee, Wilbur Ross, known for the billions of dollars he has earned through international investing; and a National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn, who as president of Goldman Sachs has channeled tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans.

Mr. Mulvaney, who did not respond to emails seeking comment, has cut an influential swath among House conservatives since he was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, when he defeated a longtime representative, John Spratt, a Democrat. He won by characterizing his opponent as a big-spending liberal, unconcerned about fiscal prudence, even though as chairman of the House Budget Committee, Mr. Spratt was among his party’s leading deficit hawks.

Since then, Mr. Mulvaney has perpetually rejected short-term spending agreements and questioned the government’s need to increase its statutory borrowing limits to avoid default. He has repeatedly opposed some of his own party’s budget proposals, and quickly established himself as one of the most outspoken members of that 2010 class of Republicans. By 2013, at the start of his second term, he declined to support Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker, abstaining from the vote in protest.

At the same time, unlike some members of the caucus, Mr. Mulvaney, 49, has also supported Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Boehner’s successor as speaker, and has served as a quiet back channel between Mr. Ryan and conservative members. Impish and sometimes short-tempered, Mr. Mulvaney seemed to chafe at serving in the shadow of Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Scott, who are best friends and shining stars in their party and home state.

Mr. Mulvaney has now found a political home where he can stand out.

He has often served as an articulate spokesman for the right’s spending and social-policy positions, far more than many other Freedom Caucus members, who often seem more concerned with self-promotion than policy persuasion.

“Mick is a great choice to lead the O.M.B.,” Mr. Scott said on Saturday. “We entered Congress together in 2010, and I am certain he will tackle his new position with the same passion he has represented the Fifth District with over the past six years. Facing a $20 trillion debt, we need someone committed to restoring fiscal sanity in Washington, and I am confident Mick will work to do so.”

As budget director, Mr. Mulvaney would help guide a repeal of the Affordable Care Act — a promise of the president-elect — a tax overhaul and, potentially, a huge federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure, which, like many Republicans, he does not want.

So resolute is Mr. Mulvaney on holding the spending line that in 2013, he almost single-handedly took down a $50.7 billion emergency relief bill in the wake of Hurricane Sandy by championing an amendment requiring that the package be offset dollar for dollar with across-the-board spending cuts.

The amendment ultimately failed after Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey criticized Mr. Mulvaney and House Republicans sharply. But the South Carolina conservative praised the 162 votes the measure received as a harbinger for future fights over emergency relief bills.

That campaign could re-emerge in cabinet fights if Mr. Trump insists on pressing forward with a $1 trillion program to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. If, as Mr. Trump has said, such a program is intended to goose economic growth and job creation, he will be at odds with his budget director, should Mr. Mulvaney insist on equivalent spending cuts elsewhere, which would make the economic impact a wash.

An early supporter of Mr. Trump during the campaign, Mr. Mulvaney has taken a hard line on spending during President Obama’s term, vowing not to raise the nation’s debt limit and embracing the term “Shutdown Caucus” because of his willingness to shut the government down instead.

Strongly anti-establishment, Mr. Mulvaney, who has a degree in international economics from Georgetown University and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was irked as much by the Republican leadership in the House as he was by Mr. Obama’s command from the White House.

If confirmed by the Senate to run the budge office, Mr. Mulvaney would be responsible for helping to shepherd the president’s spending requests through a Republican-controlled Congress.

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