Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R – SC) appears to be facing an uphill battle as President Trump’s nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget, with Senate hawks angrily condemning him as insufficiently pro-military for past votes, particularly one calling for an end to the US occupation of Afghanistan.
Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) accused Mulvaney of being “crazy” and “pitting the debt against the military,” then demanded to know what he was thinking with such a vote. When Mulvaney began to describe the story of a father, a Vietnam veteran from his district who wanted his son home from Afghanistan, McCain quickly interrupted and insisted that was no excuse for not supporting the conflict.
After asking the question and quickly interrupting, McCain used the rest of his time berating Mulvaney, insisting that Afghanistan is “where 9/11 came from,” and insisting that no one in Mulvaney’s home state of South Carolina could’ve possibly supported his vote against the war.
A fiscal conservative, Mulvaney has a long history of voting against excessive military spending, and given the OMB’s role in making budgets for the country, that is scaring a lot of military hawks, who want to make sure that discussions of military spending are kept carefully separate from the question of how they’d pay for it.
The Trump transition team has downplayed Mulvaney’s past votes, insisting that he has no objection to increased military spending so long as cuts come elsewhere to pay for it. That assurance is unlikely to placate many in the Senate, however, as any discussion of military spending that doesn’t begin and end with pledging far more than the Pentagon is asking for will necessarily be seen as “anti-military.”