Former Congressman Jim Nussle is President Bush’s pick to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget and Nussle’s nomination has picked up a key capitol hill endorsement.
Congressman John Spratt, a Democrat, is backing Nussle for the job. "During all the years that Jim Nussle was the chairman of the House Budget Committee, I sat next to him as the (top-ranking Democrat). Our working relationship became one of comity and respect," Spratt says. "Despite our disagreements on the budget — and they were significant — Jim Nussle was collegial, not just toward me but towards other Democrats on the committee."
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, has warned Nussle’s nomination is endangered by Democrats who charge Nussle was too partisan when he led the House Budget Committee.
But Spratt, the Democrat who is now chairman of the House Budget Committee, calls Nussle "evenhanded."
"Jim Nussle came to me several times, repeatedly sought my input," Spratt says. "I saw that there was a separation between us on the issues but there was a potential, still, for us working together."
Nussle can "easily" take the job as the president’s budget director, according to Spratt.
"Given our history on the budget committee, I consider Jim Nussle a worthy adversary — able, knowledgeable and fair," Spratt says.
Senator Kent Conrad — the Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget Committee — told Nussle Spratt’s comments may help Nussle win confirmation in the senate.
"You’ve got a real friend there," Conrad told Nussle. "…It matters a lot that Chairman Spratt has endorsed your candidacy so warmly."
Conrad, though, says it’s unlikely the senate will vote on Nussle’s nomination until September. In addition, an unidentified senator has placed an indefinite hold on Nussle’s nomination.
President Bush has the option of appointing Nussle to the post on an interim basis — an interim position that could last through the remainder of Bush’s term in the White House.