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(Photo: Slate.com)
(Photo: Slate.com)

By Team MOC

Confirmation hearings have traditionally provided opportunities for great political theater, and the exchanges in recent days between lawmakers and President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees have not disappointed in that regard.

Among the most heated back-and-forths was the following between Sen. John McCain, R-Az., and Congressman Mick Mulvany, R-SC, Trump’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“Did you vote to cut $17 billion from our defense?” McCain asked early in his line of questioning.

“Of the overseas contingency operation budget, yes sir,” Mulvaney replied.

“Did you offer an amendment in 2013 to cut the budget by 3.5 billion?” McCain asked.

“That I don’t remember,” Mulvaney said.

“Well, I tell you, I would remember if I voted to cut our defense the way that you did, congressman,” McCain opined. “Maybe you don’t take it with the seriousness that it deserves. I’m not interested in playing semantic games with you. I’m interested in what our military needs and whether they’re receiving it.

“You’ve been an impediment to that for years,” McCain added.

McCain then went after Mullany over his labeling the 2013 government shutdown as a “temporary lapse in appropriations.”

“Since it’s obvious that you and your friends supported the shutdown, I remember it vividly, as a quote ‘temporary lapse in appropriations,’ I’d like you to maybe go to Arizona and tell the folks up around the Grand Canyon,” McCain said, explaining that those affected had to fly food in because of the government action. “I think it’s a shameful chapter, and I think it is a reason why people have such a low opinion of us and the work we do.”

But McCain saved the bulk of his ire for Mulvaney’s approach to the war in Afghanistan.

“What were you thinking, honestly, when you voted for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan?” McCain asked. “Help me out here.”

“Senator, if you give me the time, I’ll tell you the story, because it’s a true story,” Mulvaney replied.

“I have about 50 seconds, go ahead.”

Mulvaney said that in 2011 a group of Vietnam veterans visited him in his office to talk about the VA. After the meeting, one of them who he described as “this giant, mountain of a man with a long gray ponytail and leather vest” told him how his son had done multiple tours of duty overseas and said it was killing his family.

“So the answer to that is to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan?” McCain asked. “That is crazy.”

“I was doing the best I could to represent the people in South Carolina,” Mulvaney said.

“Because one person came up to you and was subject to the sacrifices the men and women make, that you voted to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan? Don’t you know where 9/11 came from?” McCain asked, getting angrier by the word.

“Senator, you know as well as any how pro-military South Carolina is —”

“I know one thing about South Carolina, the majority of them don’t support a vote in favor of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan, I can tell you that,” McCain interrupted.

Then McCain summarily left the hearing.

Watch the entire hearing (if you have a couple of hours to kill) here:

(h/t: Buzzfeed News)

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