January 24, 2017

Kaine Questions OMB Director Nominee Mick Mulvaney On Trump Administration Actions That Hurt The Federal Workforce, Views On Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, participated in a hearing on the nomination of U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Pressing Mulvaney on his record on federal workforce issues as well as recent Trump Administration actions that would hurt federal employees – including 170,000 Virginians – Kaine asked, “How is calling federal employees ‘corrupt and beholden to special interests,’ freezing any new hiring of federal employees, gathering information about employees who worked on priorities the new President doesn’t share, and supporting a rule that could target individual employees for massive salary reductions likely to build a high-morale high-performance organization?”

Kaine also pressed Mulvaney on whether he believes in climate change driven by human-generated CO2 emissions, which has put flood-prone communities like Hampton Roads at great risk.

“We spend a lot of money dealing with climate-related issues. Storm relief from Superstorm Sandy, rewriting the federal flood insurance program, dealing with sea-level rise in Virginia and South Carolina, military budgets that try to move infrastructure around because of sea-level rise or drought or other climate conditions,” said Kaine.  “If you don’t believe in climate change – say right now somebody doesn’t – you’re not going to be proposing investments to help military bases deal with the effects of climate change. If you don’t believe the fact, you won’t be proposing budgetary allocations. I’m curious on this factual question, do you accept that climate change is caused by human activity at least in part…”

Mulvaney answered Kaine’s question by stating he was, “not yet convinced that it is a direct correlation between man-made activity and a change in the climate.”

Additional exceprts from Kaine’s questioning are below:

Kaine: Do you want a high-morale high-performance federal workforce or a low-morale low-performance federal workforce?

Mulvaney: High-morale high-performance.

Kaine: How is calling federal employees “corrupt and beholden to special interests,” freezing any new hiring of federal employment, gathering information about employees who worked on priorities the new President doesn’t share, and supporting a rule that could target individual employees for massive salary reductions likely to build a high-morale high-performance organization?

Mulvaney: I think that rhetoric taps into a concern shared by many – including yourself – that there are many federal workers who don’t live up to our expectations and –

Kaine: We shouldn’t paint them with a broad brush should we?

Mulvaney: Anytime you paint with a broad brush you run the risk of going outside the lines.

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Kaine:  We spend a lot of money dealing with climate-related issues. Storm relief from Superstorm Sandy, rewriting the federal flood insurance program, dealing with sea-level rise in Virginia and South Carolina, military budgets that try to move infrastructure around because of sea-level rise or drought or other climate conditions. … I asked you to just agree or disagree with me on something that actually had a couple of facts in it. “Climate change driven partly by human-generated CO2 emissions is a huge risk” You disagreed with my factual premise. That was your statement. Do you disagree that there’s climate change? Do you disagree that it is driven partly by human-generated CO2 emissions? Do you disagree that it’s a huge risk? Or do you disagree with all three of those things?

Mulvaney: Let me see if I can break that one down. Again, as much as I enjoy the conversation I still keep trying to come back to the issue of how this relates to OMB because I think I found it.

Kaine: You’ll put these investments in the budget or not.

Mulvaney: Well, what you just described are costs or benefits depending on what side of the equation that you’re under and what I see my job as doing is analyzing the costs and benefits of various regulatory policies and various legislation. If the House or the Senate were to pass a climate change regulation that would fall under the OMB to brief the president on those issues, and I see that one of the roles that I would have is to lay out the costs and benefits to the President. Again, my opinion may enter into the equation, but for the most part I don’t think it does.

Kaine: Here’s how I think it enters in. If you don’t believe in climate change – say right now somebody doesn’t – you’re not going to be proposing investments to help military bases deal with the effects of climate change. If you don’t believe the fact, you won’t be proposing budgetary allocations. I’m curious on this factual question, do you accept that climate change is caused by human activity at least in part—

Mulvaney: I see the straightforward question. I’ve had this exact same conversation Mr. Sanders. I recognize the fact there is some signs that would indicate that, but I am not yet convinced that it is a direct correlation between man-made activity and a change in the climate.

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