Republican Mick Mulvaney represents South Carolina‘s fifth Congressional district and is Donald Trump‘s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney, who first endorsed Rand Paul for President, was confirmed by the Senate on February 16.
The 49-year-old Mulvaney, who was born in Alexandria, Virginia, had been in Congress since 2011. Mulvaney’s district covers a large section of Northern and Central South Carolina. It is mostly an agricultural district, with the city Rock Hill included. The district is famous for being the same district Frank Underwood represents in the Netflix series House of Cards. Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of 35 right-wing Republicans that was created in January 2015.
Mulvaney married Pamela West in 1998 and the two have 17-year-old triplets, Finn, James and Caroline.
Here’s a look at the life and career of Mulvaney.
1. Mulvaney First Endorsed Rand Paul for President Over Trump
Mulvaney, a fiscal conservative, announced in an interview with the Washington Post in September 2015 that he endorsed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for President. The Congressman, who rode the Tea Party wave into Congress, told the Post that the “establishment wing of our party has lost its way.”
“They don’t have any idea the damage they’re doing to the Republican Party. I called up Rand and said, I’ve had enough,” Mulvaney told the Post. “We’re either going to figure out how to save this party or the establishment is going to drive it to irrelevance.”
At the time, Mulvaney’s endorsement was seen as a big boost to Paul, but he continued to struggle in the primaries and was out of the race by February 2016. Once that happened, Mulvaney didn’t immediately endorse another candidate, but said he wanted to see the GOP rally around the candidate that was likely to win the nomination – Trump.
“I was a Rand Paul supporter during the primaries. When Rand dropped out I didn’t pick another candidate. But I’m more than happy to abide by what the Republican primary voters have said,” Mulvaney told CNN in May 2016. “And what they said it this year they said they want Donald Trump. And I’m fine with that and was hopeful that the whole party could rally behind Trump a little bit faster than we have.”
2. Mulvaney Supports a ‘Balanced Budget Amendment to Force the Federal Government to Have a Balanced Budget
If Trump wanted a budget hawk as his director of the Office of Management and Budget, he couldn’t have picked a better candidate than Mulvaney. Right on his website, Mulvaney declares that the “current path is unsustainable.”
“It’s disappointing that the discussion about our debt has faded away in the last few years,” a statement on his website reads. “I will continue to draw attention to this issue and work to bring accountability to the way Washington spends money.”
After he joined Congress, he also became a member of the Balanced Budget Amendment Caucus, which was created in 2010 with Representatives Bob Goodlatte, a Republican of Virginia, and Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from North Carolina who retired in 2014, as its founders. The group supports a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment that calls for Congress to pass a balanced budget like state governments.
Each time increasing the debt ceiling came up for debate during his tenure in the House, Mulvaney tried to fight it. Mulvaney was also critical of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which didn’t decrease federal spending for the Fiscal Years of 2014 and 2015. Mulvaney told the Hill in December 2013 that, even though he didn’t support it, he didn’t blame Ryan for the deal. “It is not going to undermine Paul’s credibility or conservative bona fides,” Mulvaney said.
“This was not a bill designed to get our support…it was designed to get the support of defense hawks and appropriators and Democrats,” Mulvaney told the Hill of the budget deal before it passed.
Mulvaney, who has a bachelor’s degree in International Economics, Commerce and Finance from Georgetown University, sat on the Committees on Financial Services and on Small Business.
3. Mulvaney Thinks Government Spending Needs to be Focused on Defense First
In an interview with The Herald (South Carolina) before the 2016 election, Mulvaney made it clear that he believes that the federal government should focus its spending on defense.
“The Constitution is pretty clear: national defense is the first priority of the federal government,” Mulvaney told the Herald. “That is one reason I opposed the so-called sequester, which was an agreement between John Boehner, Harry Reid, and President Obama to raise the debt ceiling and either 1) cut defense spending or 2) raise taxes. While that is a win-win for Democrats, I thought it was a bad bargain for the country.”
However, he didn’t say that defense is the only area government spending should focus on. He said there are a “limited number” of other things, including “border security and immigration, interstate transportation, ports and other infrastructure, etc.”
In July 2016, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the U.S.’ gross debt would rise from $19 trillion now to $39.5 trillion under Trump. But Trump hopes that Mulvaney will help save the country from “drowning in red ink.”
In his statement announcing Mulvaney as his pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Trump wrote:
“We are going to do great things for the American people with Mick Mulvaney leading the Office of Management and Budget. Right now we are nearly $20 trillion in debt, but Mick is a very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation’s finances and save our country from drowning in red ink. With Mick at the head of OMB, my administration is going to make smart choices about America’s budget, bring new accountability to our federal government, and renew the American taxpayer’s trust in how their money is spent.”
4. Mulvaney Was 1 of 67 Republicans Who Voted Against a Hurricane Sandy Relief Package
Congress didn’t pass the $9.7 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package until January 2013, over two months after the storm slammed the Mid-Atlantic states. The bill passed the Senate unanimously, but 67 Republicans voted against the bill, including Mulvaney.
On January 15, a bill that provided $51 billion in additional Sandy aid was up for a vote and Mulvaney made it clear that he didn’t support it. As NJ.com reported at the time, Mulvaney offered a “poison-pill” amendment, insisting that cuts be made to the federal government budget to pay for Sandy relief.
“I support the Sandy relief, but I think we ought to pay for it. I am not one of those Republicans who believe that providing emergency relief is not the role of federal government. I just think we should do it responsibly,” Mulvaney told NJ.com.
Mulvaney’s amendment failed to pass. He said in a statement at the time:
While I certainly hoped my amendment to offset the cost of the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Relief Bill would have passed, I was very encouraged that 162 Members, including several Democrats, agreed that we should find a way to pay for the relief the folks in the Northeast so desperately need. I believe this bodes well for future discussions about how to deal with emergency spending. I am especially pleased with the atmosphere of the debate, as it was respectful and reasonable on all sides. Even opponents of my amendment recognized that this amendment was not about denying assistance to anyone in need. I hope that we will use this experience to be even better stewards of taxpayer dollars going forward.
When devastating floods hit South Carolina in October 2015, South Carolina’s congressional delegation quickly asked for federal aide. “There will be a time for a discussion about aid and how to pay for it, but that time is not now. The danger is still real, and it is immediate. Keeping folks safe is the priority right now,” Mulvaney said that time, The Associated Press reports.
5. Mulvaney Supports Immigration Reform, but Criticized Obama’s Executive Action in 2014
On his website, Mulvaney states that he supports immigration reform and agrees with Trump that the borders must be secured.
“Border security doesn’t just mean building a fence, though,” his site reads. “It also means more border patrol and a better use of technology. Fixing the illegal immigration problem won’t be simple, quick, or seamless. But these initiatives absolutely move us in the right direction.”
In 2013, Mulvaney and five other Republican Congressmen signed a letter to Rand Paul, saying they agreed with his desire for immigration reform. In the letter, the Republicans said that immigration reform needs to “reasonably address” the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. “It also may mean providing a legal status, upon certain conditions and that may not include full rights of citizenship, to people who are currently here,” the letter read.
However, when President Barack Obama signed an executive order that offered temporary legal status to illegal immigrants and a reprive from deportation, Mulvaney was among the Congressmembers to denounce Obama’s move.
“This country is governed by the rule of law, not the rule of one man,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “The President’s excuse — that Congress has not acted — is pathetic and insulting. His party had complete and total control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives for two solid years, and completely ignored immigration reform.”
In June 2016, the Supreme Court blocked the Obama executive order from going into effect.