U.S. Senate confirms Trump nominee who defied subpoena to lead budget office

FILE PHOTO: Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Russell Vought testifies before House Budget Committee on 2020 Budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted along party lines on Monday to confirm Russell Vought as director of the Office of Management and Budget, eight months after Vought defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify in President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

The vote was 51-45 to confirm Vought, as all of Trump’s fellow Republicans backed the nomination and every Democrat voted no.

Vought, 44, has held the post of OMB director on an acting basis since January 2019, when his predecessor, Mick Mulvaney, became acting White House chief of staff. Mulvaney is now U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment effort last year had wanted Vought to testify to obtain information about why OMB froze military aid for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress. Vought dismissed the investigation as a sham.

Known for fierce loyalty to Trump, Vought, a former congressional aide and official at the conservative policy organization Heritage Action, was reviled by Democrats even before Trump’s impeachment.

When Trump nominated him as OMB deputy director in early 2018, Vought received no Democratic support, so Vice President Mike Pence had to come to the Senate to cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm him.

Vought has been a champion of Trump’s efforts to cut regulations and the administration’s push to lower funding for U.S. and international public health programs.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown