Floor Statements

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, delivered the following statement on the Senate floor today opposing the nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

“Mr. President:

“I rise in opposition to the nomination of Congressman Mick Mulvaney to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“President Trump has committed to ‘end the defense sequester’ and ‘rebuild our military.’ Earlier this month, the President promised troops at CENTCOM headquarters that his administration ‘will make a historic financial investment in the Armed Forces of the United States.’ I fully support the President’s commitment. I fear Congressman Mulvaney does not.

“I believe that we must rebuild our military while at the same time putting our nation on a sustainable long-term fiscal path. We can and must do both. Unfortunately, Congressman Mulvaney has spent his last six years in the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our military. He authored and supported amendments to cut national defense funding year…after year…after year. And as my colleagues and I sought repeatedly to find legislative solutions to reverse dangerous defense cuts and eliminate arbitrary defense spending caps, it was Congressman Mulvaney and his allies that repeatedly sought to torpedo these efforts.

“In 2013, Congressman Mulvaney succeeded in passing an amendment to cut $3.5 billion from the defense appropriations bill. His website featured an article touting the achievement. But when asked about that vote during his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mulvaney said he didn’t remember that amendment. I think anyone who treats our national defense with the seriousness it deserves would remember a vote like that.

“President Trump has said that defense cuts over the last several years have depleted our military. Our military leaders have testified that these cuts have placed the lives of our military service members at greater risk. But Congressman Mulvaney has said that, in the greater scheme of things, sequestration cuts were not that big. He also said that “the only thing worse than those military cuts would be no cuts at all.” This is the kind of a statement that could only be made by a person utterly detached from the reality of what these cuts have meant to our military service members.

“Tell that to the thousands of soldiers who were forced out of the Army because of these cuts.

“Tell that to the Marine pilots who fly fewer hours per month than their Russian and Chinese counterparts because of these cuts.

“Tell that to the Air Force maintainers stealing parts from retired aircraft and museum pieces to keep their planes in the air because of these cuts.

“And tell that to the crew of the submarine, USS Boise, who cannot deploy because their boat is no longer qualified to dive, and cannot receive required upkeep because of chronic maintenance backlogs…and the thousands of Navy sailors who have picked up the slack for an overworked Navy by going on extended deployments and spending more and more time away from their families…all because of these cuts.

“Congressman Mulvaney’s beliefs, as revealed by his poor record on defense spending, are fundamentally at odds with President Trump’s commitment to rebuild our military. And this record cannot be ignored in light of the significant authority exercised by the Director of OMB over the federal budget.

“Almost every one of my colleagues in this body voted for Jim Mattis to be Secretary of Defense because they knew he was the right leader to help the Department of Defense confront growing threats to our national security. I share that same confidence. But I also know he cannot do this alone. Voting in favor of Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination would be asking Secretary Mattis to spend less time fighting our enemies overseas and more time fighting inside-the-beltway budget battles with an OMB Director with a deep ideological commitment to cutting the resources available to his department.

“Congressman Mulvaney’s record is equally troubling when it comes to foreign policy. Apparently Congressman Mulvaney shared President Obama’s naïve assumptions about Russia’s threat to European security when he voted to require the withdrawal of two Army brigade combat teams from Europe in 2012. He compounded the error in 2013 when he voted to withdraw the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Europe.

“Congressman Mulvaney and others supported these withdrawals in the name of saving money. But the short-sighted decision to withdraw troops and capabilities from Europe ended up costing the taxpayer billions more, not less. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, America’s military presence in Europe was inadequate to the scale and scope of Russia’s threat to our interests and our allies. Addressing this problem has required billions of dollars in new investments to enhance our deterrent posture in Europe. In other words, American taxpayers quite literally paid the price for the strategic mistake of withdrawing from Europe supported by Congressman Mulvaney. 

“In 2011, Congressman Mulvaney voted for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. That Congressman Mulvaney voted to abandon America’s mission to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists to attack our homeland as they did on September 11th is disturbing enough. But Congressman Mulvaney’s testimony during his confirmation hearing that he did so at the urging of a single constituent with no apparent regard for the national security consequences leaves me with serious doubts about his judgment on matters of national security.

“Beyond matters of defense and national security policy, I am also concerned about Congressman Mulvaney’s support for reckless budget strategies that led to a government shutdown. He made frequent attempts to diminish the impact of the shutdown by referring to it as a ‘government slowdown,’ or the more Orwellian term ‘temporary lapse in appropriations.’ There are few people whose views and record are more representative of the dysfunction that has gripped Washington for the last several years than Congressman Mulvaney.

“Over my thirty years in the Senate, I have shown great deference to presidents of both parties in selecting members of their cabinet. But I cannot on this nominee.

“My decision to oppose this nomination is not about one person. It is not about one Cabinet position. This is not personal. This is not political. This is about principle. This is about my conviction as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee that providing for the common defense is our highest constitutional duty, and that rebuilding our military must be the number one priority of the Congress and the White House.

“I will vote to oppose Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination because it would be irresponsible to place the future of the defense budget in the hands of a person with such a record and judgment on national security. But this is the beginning, not the end, of the fight to rebuild the military. I will continue to stand on principle as this body considers a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year, a defense authorization bill, and a defense appropriations bill. And I will continue to stand on principle in fighting to bring a full repeal of the Budget Control Act’s discretionary spending caps to the floor of the Senate. 

“For six years now, Washington dysfunction has imposed very real consequences on the thousands of Americans serving in uniform and sacrificing on our behalf all around the nation and the world. From Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria, from the heart of Europe to the seas of Asia, our troops are doing everything we ask of them. It is time for those of us in this body to do all we can for them. And so long as I serve as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, it is my pledge to do just that.”