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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I want to share a few remarks on the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. I suspect she will be confirmed momentarily. She was raised in a small town in West Virginia and seems to have some good West Virginia values. She is smart, able, and has a winning personality for sure.

This is, perhaps, properly utilized, the toughest, most important job in the U.S. Government. The primary responsibility of OMB is to assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the budget, but also to help formulate spending plans to deal with agency programs, policies, and positions in setting funding priorities to make tough choices that are necessary to keep our financial house in order. It is a tough position.

We could have elected a President such as Governor Romney, who was a manager, a tough, proven executive. That was his strength. President Obama's strength is in message, traveling the country and advocating his positions, leaving it even more critically important than normal, it would seem to me, to have a very strong Office of Management and Budget leader. Ms. Burwell certainly seems to have the integrity to do the job.

I am worried about her lack of experience. She served as the president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She served as the head of the Walmart Charitable Foundation, she served in the Office of Management and Budget for a time--Chief of Staff, I believe, to the Secretary of Treasury--and at the National Economic Council. Her most recent experience has not been in directly trying to rein in a government that is out of control.

The Web site of OMB says as part of its mission:

It reports directly to the President and helps a wide range of executive departments and agencies across the Federal Government to implement the commitments and priorities of the President.

It is a big job.

I would say that in failing to nominate someone like a proven executive, a proven Governor, or a former Cabinet member who can look these Cabinet members in the eye and say: No, Secretary, this is not going to be within our budget; this isn't within our plans--you are going to have to see if you can do this. We have a nominee who will really have to rise to the occasion to be able to defend common sense and spending because our Cabinet people get ideas and visions. They want to do all kinds of things, particularly in this administration. Sometimes you have to say: We don't have the money. We would like to do that, but we do not have the money.

The President's budget that OMB is required to produce and that he has submitted so far has not been impressive. That is an understatement. They have not exemplified the leadership and management that we would expect in a President.

For instance, the 2013 budget, the one that was introduced last year, increased spending by $1.5 trillion above the Budget Control Act spending levels to which we all agreed. That is not good.

The President signed the Budget Control Act. It limited spending from increasing from $37 trillion at current law baseline. He was going to $47 trillion. The Budget Control Act reduced the increase to just $45 trillion instead of going up to $47 trillion. It imposed the 2012 budget limits. Yet the President's budget proposed a deficit of $2.7 trillion above the agreed-upon baseline, so we had a good number of problems with that budget. Of course, the budget, those two budgets, failed in the Senate 99 to 0 and 97 to 0. It got not a single vote, and it didn't get a single vote in the House because it's an irresponsible budget. Ms. Burwell will be replacing the OMB Director who put together those budgets.

I see my colleague and able chair of the Budget Committee here. I thought I would have 10 minutes. What is the agreement at this point?


Mr. SESSIONS. The Republican time has expired.

I will say I intend to support Ms. Burwell's nomination. We will give her a chance. I hope she will rise to the occasion. I think she has the ability. She certainly is a delightful person with whom to meet.

I yield the floor.


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