How Mick Mulvaney Can Do Two Full-Time Jobs

Past OMB directors say that role is all-consuming, but Mulvaney and his team believe he will be able to juggle it and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau post at the same time.

Mick Mulvaney (center) walks to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building after leaving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Nov. 30, 2017, 8 p.m.

Mick Mulvaney thinks he knows what to expect now that he has accepted a second full-time job from President Trump to go along with being budget director. “It is going to be a lot of extra work,” he said this week when he assumed his new duties as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, assuring reporters that hard work is “not something new” to him.

But with only seven days to go before a possible government shutdown and 67 days before the deadline for submitting next year’s budget, veterans of federal budget-making think it has yet to hit him how challenging his next two months will be. “There are days I’m sure he will find not enough time to do the jobs that he has,” said Jim Nussle, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush and was chairman of the House Budget Committee. “It’s a daunting task. But I’m sure he is up to the job.”

Stan Collender, who worked for both the House and Senate Budget Committees and is considered the leading expert on the budget, said Mulvaney is going to be tested more than any of his predecessors in the OMB post. “OMB is an all-consuming job,” Collender said. “I can’t imagine any other OMB director being willing to take on what Mulvaney appears to be so eager to do, which is take that second position.”

What is particularly striking is that he is donning the second hat at precisely the busiest time of year for his office as it struggles to complete the budget in time to submit it by the Feb. 5 deadline set by the 1990 Budget Act. “Traditionally, the staff has to work through Christmas and they are racing to get the budget completed,” said Collender, who now is vice president of Qorvis/MSL Group.

The process is further complicated this year by what Collender calls “a triple whammy”—a part-time director, a possible shutdown, uncertainty about the budget numbers for the current fiscal year, and a looming tax bill that will have a major impact on the budget’s economic forecast, revenue levels, and spending levels on health care.

Nussle, who is now president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, compared the situation to the Olympics. “You would call it a degree of difficulty that’s been added. … It is a much greater degree of difficulty because of those factors.” Alice Rivlin, budget director in Bill Clinton’s first term, stressed that there is nothing normal about the situation. “Normal is bad enough,” she said. “But this is a time when the processes are all in chaos, and one would think that the OMB director would have more than a normal December role, rather than less.”

Mulvaney does not deny the challenge. But he insisted he can handle the added duties at the CFPB. “Being budget director is a full-time job,” he said. “There is no question about it. This is going to be a heavy workload for the next couple of months or weeks or however long I end up being here.” He based his confidence on the team he has put together at OMB and the team he inherited at CFPB. “My guess is that while it is going to be a lot of extra work, we will be able to do both jobs for a period of time.”

Part of that team is his director of communications at OMB, John Czwartacki, who said Mulvaney has ordered all “extraneous meetings” to be taken off his schedule. “Those things are not happening now. Mick’s time is now focused on his day jobs. He is meeting with the staff and with people related directly to the mission at hand. … Right now, he’s fixated on using every ounce of bandwidth he has on the two jobs he has.”

Both Czwartacki and Mulvaney contend the dual task is eased by geography, since the CFPB offices are just across the street from Mulvaney’s offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “It is very easy to do this,” Czwartacki said. “We just go out this 17th Street entrance of the EOB and walk across the street, and the other building is right there. So, logistically, it is a piece of cake.”

The timing is what really strikes budget veterans. “It is probably the busiest quarter for a budget director, no question about that,” said Nussle, who added that Mulvaney actually has three jobs, not two. He said being a senior adviser to the president can also be a full-time job.

Nussle said he understands the agencies are in what’s called “final budget pass-back” now, with the Defense Department scheduled on Friday to get its last chance to make its case to OMB. In a normal budget year, Collender said, OMB would be close to “locking the data base,” which means the requests from departments and agencies would already be sorted, with final decisions being made that could be reversed only by appeals to the president himself. Czwartacki said that point hasn’t yet been reached this year.

“The process is on track, and we are in the middle of that process. Numbers have been shared, and agencies are reacting to them and passing that information back,” he said, insisting, “All this will be mostly wrapped up before Christmas. … The pedal has been to the floor and it has not let up. Traditionally, this is when OMB does its magic.”

From the perspective of those who are veterans of the process, it might take magic to meet the deadline set in the Budget Act for submitting the budget by the first Monday in February. Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush always met that deadline. Clinton missed it in two of his years, and President Obama only made it twice in his two terms—proving, said Rivlin, “The sky doesn’t fall if the president’s budget isn’t submitted by a certain date.”

Czwartacki, though, remains hopeful. “I can’t definitively say that the submission will be on that day. But no one has said otherwise, that we’re not targeting that date. That is still very much in the mix and the plan.” Nussle said there are few consequences if Mulvaney misses that target. “We never did find,” he said, “the budget penitentiary in the basement of the Capitol where we could put all the people who violated the budget caps or sequestration or deadlines.”

What We're Following See More »
BUT NOT SUBMITTED THEM
Trump Says He's Completed Answers to Mueller's Questions
1 days ago
THE LATEST
BUT DESANTIS APPEARS TO HAVE LOCKED UP GOVERNOR'S RACE
Florida Senate Race Heads to Hand Recount
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Following a five-day machine recount of the more than 8.3 million votes cast in the Nov. 6 election, Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered hand recounts Thursday afternoon in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott." Meanwhile, the "race for governor, which also went through a machine recount, was outside the margins that trigger a manual recount as new tallies came in, making Republican former congressman Ron DeSantis the governor-elect a full nine days after Democrat Andrew Gillum first conceded."

Source:
ORANGE COUNTY IS NOW TOTALLY BLUE
Mimi Walters Is the Latest GOP Incumbent to Go Down
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"In another blow to California Republicans reeling from defeats in the Nov. 6 election, Democrat Katie Porter has ousted GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in an upscale Orange County congressional district that was a longtime conservative bastion." Every district within the county is now held by a Democrat.

Source:
POLIQUIN STILL CHALLENGING RANKED-CHOICE VOTING
Poliquin Loses in Maine's 2nd District
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Democrat Jared Golden has defeated Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting for a congressional race, according to state election officials. The Democrat won just over 50 percent of the vote in round one of ranked-choice voting, meaning he’ll be the next congressman from the 2nd District unless Poliquin’s legal challenges to the voting system prevail. A Golden win in the 2nd District, which President Donald Trump carried in 2016, mean Democrats have picked up 35 seats in the House."

Source:
IF SHE AGREES TO RULES REFORMS
Republicans Could Back Pelosi in Speaker Vote
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said he and some other Republicans are committed to backing Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Speaker if she agrees to enact a package of rule reforms. Reed, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said the growing frustration with gridlock, polarization and a top-heavy leadership approach in Congress are the reasons why several members in his party are willing to supply Pelosi with some Speaker votes in exchange for extracting an overhaul of the House rules." The caucus wants to fast-track any legislation with support of two-thirds of members, and require a supermajority to pass any legislation brought up under a closed rule.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login