- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

[1:47 p.m.]

President Bush today nominated Rob Portman as his new director of the Office of Management and Budget, tapping a man Republicans said is perfectly matched to the job of controlling spending and improving ties between the administration and Capitol Hill.

“Rob’s talent, expertise and record of success are well-known within my administration and on Capitol Hill,” Mr. Bush said in announcing the nomination in the White House Rose Garden.

He fills the slot of Joshua B. Bolten, who took over Friday as Mr. Bush’s chief of staff.

Just weeks after the administration stumbled with the Dubai ports deal, irking the administration’s allies on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bush now has two men who earn nearly universal respect among congressional Republicans.

As the current U.S. trade representative Mr. Portman is already a member of Mr. Bush’s cabinet, having overseen passage last year of the Central America Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Portman was a seven-term congressman from Ohio, rising to a leadership position in the House Republican Conference. He served on the Budget and Ways and Means committees, and also was on the special House committee that crafted the bill establishing the Department of Homeland Security.

“Rob Portman is a pro-growth, limited-government, fiscal conservative who will make an outstanding OMB director,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, who served with him on both Ways and Means and Budget. “From his experience on the Ways and Means and Budget committees, he is a proven tax cutter and deficit hawk.”

Republicans said they expect Mr. Portman to excel at helping communicate the administration’s message to Congress, and help Mr. Bush understand where congressional Republicans are on issues.

Mr. Portman already began that outreach, calling House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert last night as the speaker was on an airplane back from Vietnam.

Democrats, though, said Mr. Portman won’t make the changes they want to see at the White House.

“From record trade deficits to record budget deficits, Rob Portman should fit right in at George Bush’s OMB,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, though in his first news release he got Mr. Portman’s first name wrong, calling him “Bob.”

OMB is responsible for setting the administration’s fiscal policies, and approves the testimony of every administration official that testifies before Congress to make sure it conforms with the administration’s.

Mr. Bush named Susan Schwab, the deputy U.S. trade representative, to fill Mr. Portman’s slot.

Both Mr. Portman and Mrs. Schwab will need to win Senate confirmation for their new slots. They both won confirmation by voice vote last year to their current positions.

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