Sen. Bill Nelson announced today that he will be voting against the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
“Congressman Mulvaney has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to face domestic and global realities, and for this senator, that raises serious concerns as to whether he can be trusted to responsibly oversee our nation’s budget process,” Nelson said on the Senate floor today.
Nelson cited Mulvaney’s support for raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70 and turning Medicare into a voucher system, and his past advocacy for shutting down the government and defaulting on the nation’s debt as just some of the reasons why he will vote against his nomination.
Below is a full transcript of Nelson’s speech, and here’s a link to watch video of his remarks: https://youtu.be/_6Qphm1zSzw.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
Remarks on the Senate floor
February 15, 2017
Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, we’re moving forward now on consideration of Mick Mulvaney to be the president’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, which is an enormous responsibility and which often directs the traffic of what’s going to happen in all of the agencies and directing traffic as to what legislation that the White House is going to be working on and working with the Congress on, so this is an enormous responsibility and a very powerful position. When looking for someone to lead this agency, we have to carefully consider the person’s record.
The presiding officer is someone who is practical, who is a military officer, and who understands a lot about human nature as I hope this senator from Florida is and what I suspect that both of us have found is that you can often tell where a fellow’s going by where he’s been.
So, let’s look at Congressman Mulvaney’s record on everything from things like social security and Medicare. Let’s look at what his record is on climate change and sea level rise.
And, oh, by the way, of particular note to the gentleman presiding in the chair, what is his record on defense spending? Now, Office of Management and Budget is going to have a great deal to say about what’s in the budget with regard to any kind of spending, but let’s see what he has said with regard to defense spending.
Okay. Congressman Murphy – Congressman Mulvaney has advocated for raising the retirement age for social security to 70. He’s also said that he wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, both of which would require senior citizen to work longer and even though they’ve worked a long time and paid into these programs in good faith, take, for example, Medicare. People have tried to provide for health insurance if they have enough money or otherwise through the ACA getting subsidies to afford health insurance, or if they don’t have enough money, having Medicaid and they are waiting for the day that they turn 65 to be eligible for Medicare.
It’s the same thing with social security. Social security, over time, has been raised from 65 to 67, but Congressman Mulvaney has talked about raising the eligibility for social security to age 70. I don’t think this is going to go over too well with a population of senior citizens who have paid into social security, who have paid in to finance Medicare and now are being told they are going to have to wait until later.
Now, I know how you can dress it up. You can say, “Oh, it’s not going to affect anybody that’s currently eligible,” but what about all the young people that are paying in? Well, time flies, and suddenly they find that they are approaching that age in their mid-60s. I don’t think people are going to take very well to Congressman Mulvaney’s position.
But let’s see else what he has said. He calls social security a Ponzi scheme. He further has said that he supports turning Medicare into a voucher system. That, under any independent economist examination, would lead to big cuts for seniors, many of whom, of our senior citizens, have no other options for health coverage.
When the president was running for — remember, he said exactly the opposite. Then candidate Trump said, he promised that there would be no cuts to Medicare and social security and yet the White House has nominated somebody that has taken positions contrary to that because it’s clear from Congressman Mulvaney’s past positions that we can’t rely on him to keep this promise that the president said.
And, again, I remind our listeners that the head of the OMB is like a chief aircraft traffic controller. He’s directing a lot of the traffic of what the white house will bless and it is a position, need I remind you, that is also considered a member of the president’s cabinet. Well, the positions Mulvaney has taken is opposite those stated by candidate Trump.
Now, let’s look at something else. You know the nation has debt and the face the United States bonds are the strongest investments in the world because it’s backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States government, the strongest government in the world. So any kind of US debt backed by the full faith and credit is the strongest investment in the world.
But Congressman Mulvaney has taken an alarming position on our nation’s debt, advocating for shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt, all a part of a political game to gain leverage in budget battles.
Anybody who takes a position that you want our government to go into default on its financial obligations — that is a pretty extreme position.
So this senator would merely say we can’t have somebody in charge of our budget as the director of Office of Management and the Budget who is willing to risk a default on our government to meet a personal ideological agenda.
All right, let’s look at something else. Now, the presiding officer is in one area of the United States, outside of the continental U.S. Yours truly is in another part of the U.S. One near the arctic, the other near southern climes.
Our state and specifically south Florida is ground zero for sea level rise. I think most people are familiar with the photographs that the television showing seawater washing through the streets on the seasonal high tides of Miami Beach. Most people have heard that some of the coastal cities, their well fields they have had to relocate them further west because of sea level rise and the intrusion of saltwater which is heavier than freshwater into the interior, and Florida sits on top of a honeycomb of limestone that is filled with water. Well, that’s what’s happening in the southern part of the United States.
A NASA scientist testified to the commerce committee that these are measurements, not forecasts, not projections, measurements. Over the last 40 years, the seas have risen in south Florida five to eight inches. And of course you’ve heard the projections. This is something that we are getting ready for, the city of Miami Beach is spending millions of dollars in very expensive pumps. The other local governments in south Florida are planning to do the same. It is not a forecast. It is happening.
And so three quarters of our state’s population of Florida lives on the coast. Look at the population in the United States. A lot of it lives on the coast, and those populations are going to bear the brunt of sea level rise from the flooded streets to the tainted drinking water, but during his confirmation meeting, the fellow who’s being considered as head of the OMB, Congressman Mulvaney, he questioned the scientific fact of climate change.
We can’t muzzle scientists. We can’t muzzle science. It’s not going to go away. You can attempt to muzzle the scientist as some governors in the south have done. And alarmingly, as I have found in the last few weeks, some agencies of government are having implied threats that they stop using the words climate change. You can’t muzzle this when the effects of scientifically proven climate change are posing a real threat to a lot of our people.
Mr. President, I specifically made this a point to question the fellow that we will vote on next week, not the instant one, a really good person, Wilbur Ross, who is going to be the — he’s going to be the Secretary of Commerce. He came out of our commerce committee with an overwhelming vote, and I specifically said — and it’s on the record, “what do you think about climate change science?” I said Mr. Ross, Wilbur Ross, do you know you have three Nobel laureates as scientists that are employed in the Department of Commerce? Do you know you have not only NOAA and all of the intricate measurements that are so important for us to protect ourselves, read inbound hurricanes, tornadoes, all the rest, the amount of rain that’s going to fall for our agricultural industry, but also we have got scientists over there in the Department of Commerce, I reminded him, that are doing the delicate measurements of science of standards and technology that are needing science to sniff the atmosphere for nuclear explosions by potential enemies. You don’t want to muzzle these scientists. You want them to bring forth the best that they can come up with modern-day techniques.
And so that’s why I – and I would ask the presiding officer to look at the bill that we have filed with a number of our fellow members of the commerce committee, the Scientific Integrity Act, which would ensure that federal scientists can freely communicate their findings with the public and with, believe it or not, Congress. It requires federal agencies to implement and enforce scientific integrity, scientific integrity policies and to ensure that adequate procedures are in place to report when those integrity policies are violated.
That ought to be common sense. That ought to be the normal course of business around here. Let people speak their minds, speak their expertise. That’s what we want. And that bill requires federal agencies to implement and enforce those policies.
All right. Now, let’s get to defense spending. The nominee for Office of Management and Budget, Congressman Mulvaney’s record on military spending is concerning.
In 2011, on an interview of ABC’s “Top Line,” Congressman Mulvaney said, quote, “defense has to be cut, it has to be on the table, no question.” He says, “There’s a group of republicans, myself included,” meaning him, “Who think that we should be cutting defense. There’s large portions of folks in our own party” — talking about the Republican Party – “who know that you can cut defense and not impact the ability of our troops in the field to be defending us.” End of quote.
I would suggest why don’t we ask the people in Ukraine that are fighting for their life against the projected arm of Vladimir Putin, trying to take over their territory just like he already did in taking over Crimea. Why don’t we ask our NATO allies — why don’t we ask our troops in the hot, sandy regions of Iraq and Syria right now? Yes, our U.S. troops in Syria, as special operations forces advising the combined forces over there fighting ISIS. Why don’t we ask them if they want defense cut? Why don’t as we see the continuous projection of the ability of Russia to move on the three Baltic states, which are our NATO partners, why don’t we ask them if they would like our defense budget cut? Why don’t we ask our allies in the pacific region that are so concerned about the testing of these increasingly longer range intermediate range ballistic missiles by North Korea, why don’t we ask them if they want us to cut back on the assets that we have in the region to be able to protect them from the North Koreans if that child dictator suddenly goes off on some crazy tangent and pushes the button.
And so, Mr. President, I will just summarize here and say that Congressman Mulvaney has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to face domestic and global realities, and for this senator, that raises serious concerns as to whether he can be trusted to responsibly oversee our nation’s budget process, and for these reasons and others, I will be voting no on Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.