Like a lot of the president’s nominees, acting budget director Russell Vought doesn’t have a whole lot of fond memories about his first confirmation hearing in the Senate. Back in 2018, when he was first picked to be OMB’s second-in-command, he was grilled by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a debate so fiercely personal it became national news. Instead of big-picture economics, the Left turned his nomination into a firefight over Vought’s Christian faith. A fight, this time around, Vought is hoping won’t be repeated.
It’s been two years since Sanders’s red-faced tantrum over Vought’s Christianity. Since then, Mick Mulvaney’s former deputy has proven himself more than capable — rising to his boss’s old post when Mulvaney was picked as Trump’s chief of staff. Russell has presided over one of the administration’s most important agencies since 2019, winning the admiration of the White House for his staunch defense of the president’s agenda. This week, the longtime economist finally has a chance to drop the “acting” label from his title. A lot of that depends on whether the hearings — one in the Senate Budget Committee and another in its Homeland Security-Government Affairs Committee — goes as planned.
Last time around, Vought thought he’d have to answer some tough questions. But, like most of us, he thought they’d be about finances — not faith. Tuesday and Wednesday, he’ll be prepared for the onslaught of hostility Democrats have for faith. The 2018 spectacle was an eye-opening one for a lot of the country, who may not have realized the level of contempt many liberals hold toward the majority religion in America. To even mainstream media commentators, it was surprising that a man who almost won the Democratic Party’s nomination for president thinks there’s no room in public service for people who believe in the Bible.
Now, with the country literally burning to the ground, we see where that kind of intolerance for faith has led. With help from eight years of Barack Obama, liberals have chased religion out of their party, their platform, our schools, and have set to work booting Him from the public square. And yet, looking around at the chaos of our cities, many of them in ashes or coated in graffiti, this push to remove God from our corporate consciousness has utterly backfired. We’ve come to a place where there’s such contempt for human life and such an infatuation with violence that we’ve descended into a lost and broken place.
Will the Senate continue that leftist march to drive faith underground, where it cannot counter the darkness of today? Or will it embrace the hope that faith like Vought’s offers to the questions roiling our country? Bigotry — against people’s skin color, religion, beliefs — they all come from the same poisonous root. It’s the same prejudice that’s brought our country to this brink. Respect for the ideals of this country and Constitution — for freedom of expression, thought, and viewpoint — start at the top.
Let’s hope the Senate leads the way in charting a new path out of the division that’s scarred the process, and for too many days, our people.
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.