New OMB director sworn in

The Office of Management and Budget ceremonially now has its new director.

Vice President Richard Cheney today ceremonially swore in Jim Nussle, a former congressman from Iowa and chairman of the Budget Committee.

The Senate confirmed Nussle Sept. 4 by a vote of 69-24.

“The director of OMB is one of the most important jobs in government,” President Bush said. “It's a vital assignment. I picked a man who knows how to count and knows how to work with Congress to get the job done.”

Nussle replaces Rob Portman, who left office in early August.

He will have his challenges as he takes office. The biggest of which is getting the fiscal 2008 spending bills finished in the next 20 days.

The White House is at odds with the Democratic-controlled Congress over spending limits and has threatened to veto nearly every spending bill.

“And as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, I will continue to insist on accountability and results as we implement your goal to balance the budget,” Nussle said after the swearing-in ceremony. “We're going to have to run very fast. There's just a lot to do. There's a big challenge out there to finish the 12 annual spending bills in a fiscally responsible way.”

He said the bigger challenge is the long-term health of the federal government, especially when it comes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“I believe government spending should be restrained, and I also believe it should be transparent, so that taxpayers could see what results they are getting for their money,” Nussle said. “And I will continue to make OMB's management responsibilities a priority to ensure Americans are getting a good bang for their taxpayer's buck.”

Nussle becomes the fourth director of OMB during Bush’s almost seven years in office. The relationship between OMB and Congress has gone from Mitch Daniels’ approach of assailing members about spending to Josh Bolten’s time of backroom détente. Nussle, experts hope, will be able to work with Congress better than some others based on his experience on the Hill.

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