Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the number two Republican in the upper chamber, has removed his hold on Russ Vought’s nomination to be Mick Mulvaney’s right-hand man at the Office of Management and Budget. "He has lifted his hold on the nomination of Russ Vought," a Cornyn aide confirms.
Cornyn took Vought hostage last October in order to secure more funding for hurricane relief in Texas. Because he controls the floor schedule, he decides what comes up for a vote and he was able to hold up the nomination for more than four months.
But Congress approved $90 million in disaster relief last night as part of a larger budget deal to keep the federal government funded. As of Friday morning, Cornyn had released his hold on Vought, a budget wonk adored in conservative circles.
This is good news for Vought, who has remained in parliamentary limbo. This is also interesting news in that Vought would take over at OMB if President Trump decided to give Mulvaney a promotion.
Trump has soured on his current chief of staff, John Kelly, who initially shielded now-fired White House staff secretary Rob Porter. During his tenure at OMB, Mulvaney has gotten on Trump’s good side, as shown by Trump appointing Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now as the New York Times reports Trump “has recently asked advisers what they think of Mick Mulvaney” for the chief of staff job.
Cornyn’s decision to release the hold on Vought could simply be because the fight over disaster funding is over. It could also be a move to make sure someone can take over OMB if Trump gives Kelly the boot and Mulvaney the nod.