Lawmakers grilled President Obama’s pick to be second in command at the Office of Management and Budget Tuesday about topics ranging from deficit reduction to information technology procurement to Postal Service pensions.
But Heather Higginbottom, who worked for seven years as legislative director for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) before becoming policy director for the Obama presidential campaign and then the White House’s domestic policy council deputy director, would likely be approved as OMB’s deputy director.
The President nominated Higginbottom for OMB’s second highest ranking slot in January.
She said she intended to work “hand-in-glove” with OMB Director Jacob Lew in crafting future years’ budgets, a notion that drew skepticism from two members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) questioned whether Higginbottom had the budgetary experience required for such a high position in OMB.
“The nominee’s background, while impressive in many respects, does not include a great deal of experience in budget process or financial analysis,” Collins said.
Higginbottom said that although she is not an accountant, she has a proven record of crafting policy that has budgetary implications, and that a large portion of her new job would depend on understanding the connection between government initiatives and their impacts on the federal budget.
“A lot of what this work entails is understanding the economic and budgetary impacts of programs, making tradeoffs of what we can pay for and afford,” she said. “The President’s budget is an articulation of his policy agenda.”
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), committee chairman, said he expected Senate approval of Higginbotton’s nomination. He said he wanted to expedite that process, and that his committee would consider whether to send her nomination to the full Senate at its next markup hearing on March 16.
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