Who is Russell Vought, the former Trump aide advising hard-right Republicans?

Who is Russell Vought, the former Trump aide advising hard-right Republicans?

Russell Vought, a former Trump administration Workplace of Administration and Price range director, is just not a member of Congress. However Vought has been a key participant in a lot of its drama of latest months, serving as a casual adviser to conservative Home Republicans.

His affect was evident once more Tuesday as hard-right GOP lawmakers sank a procedural rule vote in a present of defiance over passage final week of the bipartisan debt ceiling deal negotiated by Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Biden. It was the primary time such a vote had failed within the Home since November 2002.

Vought had previewed the technique to The Washington Publish earlier than it was used, calling it a part of “a reckoning of Home conservatives” who’re indignant with McCarthy over how he dealt with the debt invoice.

Vought, 47, president of a brand new pro-Donald Trump assume tank referred to as the Middle for Renewing America, has helped make life tough for McCarthy since he launched his speaker bid following final yr’s midterm elections.

Vought suggested members of the conservative Home Freedom Caucus and different GOP members cautious of McCarthy to extract concessions in change for supporting his speakership within the intently divided chamber. That led to the protracted 15 rounds of voting earlier than McCarthy ultimately prevailed.

Among the many concessions: a brand new Home panel that Vought helped push with a mission to analyze the alleged “weaponization of the federal authorities” beneath President Biden.

Within the lead-up to the debt ceiling negotiations, Vought additionally offered a hearth hose of recommendation to Home Republicans on easy methods to extract spending cuts and different concessions in change for his or her assist. That included a 104-page memo that proposed particular spending ranges for each federal company.

“America can’t be saved except the present grip of woke and weaponized authorities is damaged,” Vought wrote within the proposal. “That’s the central and rapid menace going through the nation — the one that each one our statesmen should rise tall to conquer. The battle can not wait.”

A few of his recommendation was mirrored within the Restrict, Save, Develop Act handed by the Home in April as a gap gambit in debt ceiling negotiations. That invoice went nowhere within the Senate, and the bipartisan invoice that later handed was far lighter on spending cuts and different concessions from Biden.

Vought was a polarizing determine lengthy earlier than the present debt restrict battle. His tenure within the Trump administration was marked by controversy over his previous incendiary feedback about Muslims and a call to implement a freeze on support to Ukraine that put him on the middle of the primary Trump impeachment.

His new assume tank advocates on hot-button tradition conflict points, corresponding to “exposing essential race principle.” In March, he co-authored an opinion piece for Fox Information that argued that “woke ideology is now embedded throughout the very DNA of the federal forms.”

Vought’s group has not disclosed its funding sources, however its annual report says it took in $1.1 million in 2021. He has described its work as “appearing like a shadow OMB on the surface.”

One uncomfortable actuality for Vought: He oversaw monumental will increase within the nationwide debt as Trump’s OMB. The debt ballooned by staggering sums on Vought’s watch: $1 trillion in his first yr, and a whopping $4 trillion in his second, as Congress agreed on a bipartisan foundation to spend trillions of {dollars} in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump repeatedly overruled fiscal hawks, like Vought, in approving the brand new spending.

In a latest interview with The Publish, Vought described the bipartisan debt deal that was adopted as “an enormous missed alternative.”

“They (suspended the debt restrict) all through the Biden presidency, and this city solely works on the idea of must-pass payments, and also you simply eliminated the debt restrict for everything of the presidency,” Vought mentioned. “That’s simply malpractice.”

Vought mentioned he blamed McCarthy for freely giving an excessive amount of to Biden and Democrats.

“I believe that he has plenty of explaining to do to his members and the American individuals,” Vought mentioned.

Jeff Stein, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer contributed to this report.

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