Published 29th September 2023

Mick Mulvaney Dreamed of Shutting Down the Government. Then He Got to Do It.

Trump’s budget chief on what it’s like to be in charge of closing the government.

Politico | 29 September, 2023

On December 22, 2018, Mick Mulvaney achieved a major milestone in his political career: He signed a piece of paper officially shutting down a wide swath of the federal government.

Mulvaney, then serving as the director of Office of Management and Budget in Donald Trump’s administration, was no stranger to shutdown politics. As a U.S. House member representing South Carolina between 2011 and 2017, Mulvaney earned a reputation as the leader of a group of hardline conservatives who were unafraid to use the threat of a shutdown to advance their spending priorities. In 2013, Mulvaney and his fellow fiscal conservatives achieved just that, forcing the federal government into a 16-day shutdown as part of an unsuccessful effort to block funding for Barack Obama’s signature health care bill.

But in 2018, after Trump and Congress failed to come to an agreement on funding a wall along the Southern border, Mulvaney found himself on the other side of the shutdown fight: Not just calling for a shutdown, but actually executing one.

“[It] was a unique experience, especially for someone who had been through shutdowns when I was in Congress,” Mulvaney told me when I spoke with him over the phone this week. “I wondered how many people would laugh, cry, wail, scream, do whatever when they found out that I was the one to shut the government down.”

Mulvaney was joined on our call by two of his top aides from OMB — Emma Doyle, the agency’s former chief of staff, and Michael Williams, an assistant deputy legal counsel — who explained that the politics of implementing a shutdown are just as complex as the politics that lead to one.

“It’s a very political decision,” said Doyle of the choice of which parts of the federal government to close and which to keep open. “There’s a lot of discretion.”

Yet even after having seen how the sausage gets made, Mulvaney said he’s just as bullish as ever on the importance of shutdowns.

“It’s not ideal, [but] it’s not the end of the world.”

Read more at Politico.

Photo credit: Reuters

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