Yesterday, Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC5) was sworn in as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Senate confirmed Mulvaney by a narrow margin of 51-49, largely along party lines. Senator John McCain was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation, a decision that was made due to Mulvaney's past opposition to budget increases for the military. Under the leadership of a fiscal hawk, OMB will play an important role in the Trump Administration's plans to rein in overly burdensome regulations. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), in OMB, which conducts reviews proposed regulations and evaluates the economic impacts, is expected to fulfill its role as a check on regulatory overreach more effectively in the new Administration. The confirmation of Mick Mulvaney also allows for OMB to begin reviewing agency budget proposals, a process that has been on hold while there was not a Director in place.
The Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) largely along party lines with a final vote of 52-46. Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia broke with the Democratic Party and voted for Pruitt while Susan Collins of Maine voted against his confirmation. Pruitt's confirmation is seen as a coup for the Administration and Republican Party who criticized the EPA loudly for regulatory overreach under the Obama Administration. Pruitt has a long history of legal challenges to various EPA regulations and his confirmation has been opposed by environmentalists who view him as an enemy to the stated goals of the EPA. For industry, Pruitt's confirmation is another signal that the regulatory environment in the United States will become substantially friendlier to business and traditional industrial developments.
As Congress continues using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to revoke various regulations from the last year of Obama's Administration these two confirmations will be shaping the new Administration's regulatory agenda in its new direction.