OMB nominee could be in trouble

Heather Higginbottom barely passed the Senate Budget Commitee's vote

The Senate Budget Committee this week approved Heather Higginbottom for a senior budget position in the Obama administration, although her approval came by a slim margin.

Senators on the committee voted along party lines April 5, with no Republicans supporting her to be the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. The vote was 11 to 10. The narrowness of the vote could signal trouble ahead for the nominee and she apparently faces stiff Republican opposition.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee’s ranking member, said Higginbottom has a lack of knowledge and experience dealing with budgetary issues, and it came through clearly during her March 17 confirmation hearing.

“Confirming Ms. Higginbottom to this position would be like installing, in the midst of a war, a battlefield general who has never had a day of military service,” he said April 5.

However, Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), said the nominee had broad knowledge of federal policy and government operations, and that the administration needs to fill in its budget leadership at OMB quickly.

Higginbottom is deputy director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. She previously was policy director for President Barack Obama’s campaign and served as a top aide to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for several years. She also founded the American Security Project think tank.

This is the second Senate committee to approve Higginbottom. In March, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved her by 6 to 4.

Higginbottom has another major step ahead of her. The full Senate may be tougher than committee approvals. Senators can place holds on nominees and stall the process for confirmation for any length of time, as has been seen numerous times in recent years.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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