BUDGET HEARING: Consideration of OMB Director Nominee Shaun Donovan

Murray: “[Donovan] is focused first and foremost on strengthening our middle class by expanding opportunity for families and communities.”

Jun 11 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Secretary Shaun Donovan to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In her opening statement, Murray praised Donovan’s leadership at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, highlighting his commitment to expanding opportunity for families and communities, his history of working in a bipartisan manner, and ability to tackle major challenges, including his work to help stabilize the housing market and his handling of disaster relief.

Murray also discussed the various challenges Donovan will face at the OMB, including addressing long-term budget challenges while protecting critical investments in areas like jobs, education, infrastructure, and innovation, and working with Congress to replace harmful sequestration cuts in fiscal year 2016 with more responsible, balanced deficit reduction.

Key Excerpts from Chairman Murray’s Opening Statement:

“I know Secretary Donovan very well. We have worked together closely over the last five years. And throughout that time, it has been clear to me that he is focused first and foremost on strengthening our middle class by expanding opportunity for families and communities.”

“Working together on these challenges, I know firsthand that Secretary Donovan confronted each one with a cool head, a deep commitment to service—and as he’s said himself, a lot of spreadsheets. I’m confident he will bring each of these strengths—and many more—to the Office of Management and Budget. He is taking on this new role at a critical time. Because—although we’ve made progress, which I’ll discuss—there is a lot more to do.”

“It is true that the long-term debt is a threat to our economy, but a poorly educated workforce, inadequate infrastructure, and dampened innovation are just as much of a threat, both to our economy and to workers and families seeking more opportunity. So we need to make sure we are investing appropriately in those areas.”

“… for fiscal year 2016, we are going to need to find a way, again, to roll back sequestration and replace it with responsible, balanced deficit reduction. I am confident we can get this done, because the Bipartisan Budget Act proved that neither side is willing to accept sequestration as the status quo. I believe we can reach an agreement that ensures we are making smart choices, and investing in priorities that we know will pay off in a more economically competitive workforce and country.”

“To ensure the programs and services we currently benefit from are there for future generations, we absolutely need to reach a larger agreement that addresses the true drivers of our debt, and sets us on a fiscally responsible path—not just for a few years but for the long haul.”

“…because these goals are so important, I am very hopeful that Secretary Donovan’s confirmation process will be a smooth and efficient one. We saw last year how critical it is to have a strong leader in place at the Office of Management and Budget. With Secretary Burwell already settling in at HHS, there is every reason to move quickly and ensure the new OMB director can also get to work.”

Full Text of Chairman Murray’s Opening Statement:

“This hearing will now come to order.

“Thank you to Ranking Member Sessions and all of my colleagues for joining us today.

“We are here to consider President Obama’s nomination of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to the position of Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“Secretary Donovan, thank you so much for joining us today. I’d also like to acknowledge your wife, Liza, and your sons Lucas and Milo, who I am sure have been an incredible source of support for you along the way. Those of us in public service could not do our jobs without the support of our families.

“And I want to take a moment to recognize the work of former OMB director, and now Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. She was a fantastic partner and leader of the OMB during a very demanding year.  President Obama made a great choice in nominating Sylvia for her new role, and bringing her leadership and skill to the Department of Health and Human Services. And he made an equally strong choice in nominating Secretary Donovan to take over at OMB.

“Secretary Donovan, I am glad to have this opportunity to speak with you about how your experience has prepared you for this new role. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on some of the budget challenges we will need to address in the near future.

“I know Secretary Donovan very well. We have worked together closely over the last five years. And throughout that time, it has been clear to me that he is focused first and foremost on strengthening our middle class by expanding opportunity for families and communities.

“Secretary Donovan was sworn in at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in January 2009—as the fallout from the financial crisis caused millions of families across the country to lose their homes and financial security.

“Faced with almost unprecedented circumstances, Secretary Donovan led HUD through the complex process of stabilizing the housing market.

“Secretary Donovan took steps to keep responsible families in their homes, and has reinforced the agency’s role in providing access to affordable housing and building strong, sustainable neighborhoods. And he worked in a bipartisan manner—including with members of our committee such as Senators Warner and Crapo, to rethink how to ensure the nation continues to have a strong, durable, and affordable housing market going forward.  

“So, while more work remains, the nation has come a long way under his leadership.

“Secretary Donovan has also been a highly effective and responsive partner to those of us in Congress when it comes to disaster relief—an area that transcends party lines.

“Over his tenure, he fought to ensure that every community hit hard by a natural disaster has the resources to get back on its feet and come back stronger than before.

“Nowhere was this more apparent than in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when President Obama created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and appointed Secretary Donovan as Chair. 

“Working together on these challenges, I know firsthand that Secretary Donovan confronted each one with a cool head, a deep commitment to service—and as he’s said himself, a lot of spreadsheets.

“I’m confident he will bring each of these strengths—and many more—to the Office of Management and Budget. He is taking on this new role at a critical time. Because—although we’ve made progress, which I’ll discuss—there is a lot more to do.

“Our fiscal outlook has improved significantly in the near term.

“Since 2010, we have passed legislation reducing our deficit by $3.3 trillion—most of the way toward the bipartisan goal of $4 trillion laid out by Simpson-Bowles. We’ve stabilized the deficit as a share of the economy over the next few years. And the deficit for this fiscal year is expected to be less than a third of what the Congressional Budget Office projected it would be five years ago.

“But we still face serious debt challenges in the coming decades that we will need to address.

“The two-year budget agreement Chairman Ryan and I reached was a step in the right direction. It moved us away from the dysfunction that has defined Congress over the past few years. It prevented another unnecessary government shutdown. It sent a strong signal that there is bipartisan support for replacing the automatic cuts from sequestration, which are scheduled to kick in again in 2016. And it laid out a blueprint for future negotiations over budget levels.

“But—all that said—our deal was only a step. And as we look toward fiscal year 2016, it is critical that we come together to build on it.

“I am confident that Secretary Donovan will be an invaluable partner in this effort.

“Because I know that—just like his predecessor at OMB—when Secretary Donovan sees a problem, the question he asks is: ‘how can we fix this in a way that does the most to help families and communities get ahead?’

“This question is absolutely central to the challenges we face when it comes to the budget.

“It is true that the long-term debt is a threat to our economy, but a poorly educated workforce, inadequate infrastructure, and dampened innovation are just as much of a threat, both to our economy and to workers and families seeking more opportunity. So we need to make sure we are investing appropriately in those areas.

“And that means for fiscal year 2016, we are going to need to find a way, again, to roll back sequestration and replace it with responsible, balanced deficit reduction.

“I am confident we can get this done, because the Bipartisan Budget Act proved that neither side is willing to accept sequestration as the status quo.

“I believe we can reach an agreement that ensures we are making smart choices, and investing in priorities that we know will pay off in a more economically competitive workforce and country.

“But as we all know, the work doesn’t stop at solving the next fiscal year. Far from it.

“To ensure the programs and services we currently benefit from are there for future generations, we absolutely need to reach a larger agreement that addresses the true drivers of our debt, and sets us on a fiscally responsible path—not just for a few years but for the long haul.

“We all know Democrats and Republicans have fundamental differences over how to get this done. But I strongly believe that if each side comes to the table ready to make a few tough choices to reach a compromise…

“If, like Chairman Ryan and I did during the budget negotiations last year, we take the time to build trust, and focus on reaching a deal rather than winning the news cycle, we can deliver this kind of deal for the American people.

“Confronting the two challenges I’ve just laid out—making critical investments in jobs and opportunity and tackling our long-term budget challenges -would do an enormous amount for families and workers across the country, right now and for decades to come.

“And because these goals are so important, I am very hopeful that Secretary Donovan’s confirmation process will be a smooth and efficient one.

“We saw last year how critical it is to have a strong leader in place at the Office of Management and Budget. With Secretary Burwell already settling in at HHS, there is every reason to move quickly and ensure the new OMB director can also get to work.

“Secretary Donovan, I would like to thank you again for joining us here today, and also for all of the work you have done and will do on the part of families and communities across the country.

“And with that I will turn it over to Ranking Member Senator Sessions for his remarks.”

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