Today on Capitol Hill, important confirmation hearings begin for Russell Vought, the president’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While the OMB may seem a bit out of our scope, the nominee – in this case – is certainly not.
Russell Vought has served as the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget since January 2019. (He took over for Mick Mulvaney when he became President Trump’s acting chief of staff.) Before that, Vought was the deputy director of OMB. But it is his experience prior to OMB that is particularly of interest and importance to us: Vought previously served as vice president of Heritage Action (the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation), policy director of the House Republican Conference under then-Rep. Mike Pence, and budget director and executive director of the Republican Study Committee – the largest conservative caucus in Congress.
Some may remember Vought’s name from a big news story in June 2017 when confirmation hearings were held in the Senate for his nomination to deputy director of OMB. During those hearings, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) attacked Vought for his Christian faith. Specifically, Sanders called into question an article Vought had written in 2016 in The Resurgent regarding a matter at his alma matter, Wheaton College. In the article, Vought described Muslim theology as deficient and said, “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
While Vought’s statement accurately represents Christian theology and is shared by millions of believers across America and the world, Sanders called it hateful and Islamophobic and said Vought was “really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about” and therefore, he’d vote no. Sanders’ sentiment spread and, in the end, nearly cost Vought the nomination.
The final Senate vote on Russell Vought’s nomination to deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget was 49-49. Vought’s confirmation was not in jeopardy due to questionable experience or qualifications for the job (which are plentiful), but rather, due to an expression of his Christian faith. Thankfully, Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to confirm Vought to the position in February 2018.
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Vought came as close as anyone in history to being rejected for public office due to his religious faith.
As he takes the microphone again and comes before two Senate committees – the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee began this afternoon, with the Budget Committee slated for tomorrow afternoon – will he face similar treatment? We pray the answer is no, and we invite you to join with us in praying for fair hearings for Mr. Vought.
Won’t you also contact your senators and ask that they vote yes to confirm Russell Vought to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget? You can quickly send a message to both of your senators in your FPA Action Center.
For religious freedom,