OMB chief to work until Bush administration’s final hour

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 1/19/2009

As Americans watch parades, speeches and the much-anticipated transfer of power between President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday, Jan. 20, Jim Nussle will be working.

Nussle will reportedly be working amid packed boxes until noon on Tuesday, when Obama is sworn in as 44th President. Nussle is the director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

“This is like trying to dismantle a rocket ship as it is trying to land,” Nussle told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “We have a significant role in the transition of the new president, from the budget to everything that is happening in the economic recovery. It is busy.”

Often viewed as a conduit between the president and federal agencies, the OMB crunches numbers and keeps tabs on actions taken by the agencies.

The OMB plays an important role in issuing federal rules, including many important regulations from the Department of Transportation that truck drivers are forced to navigate.

Federal agencies send their proposed regulations to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for final review. One rule that has been a cliffhanger for truckers during the last days of the administration is the rule that would mandate electronic onboard recorders in commercial trucks. The EOBR rule was sent to the OMB in November 2008, and this week it’s apparent that it has failed to make it to the table during the last working days of the Bush administration. 

Rick Craig, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said FMCSA’s proposed EOBR rule will now be decided by the Obama administration. It could be approved by the OMB in its current state, or could be expanded.

“Anything is possible; it could even get hung up at OMB,” Craig told Land Line. “Anything going to the OMB, that’s going to the White House, basically. The administration that is in power at the time makes the rule.”

The office also is tasked with doing much of the nuts-and-bolts work in addressing the federal deficit.

Past OMB directors include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Joshua Bolten, who went on to become Bush’s chief of staff.

Obama selected Peter Orszag as his nominee for OMB director. Orszag testified last week before the Senate Budget Committee, where he is expected to sail through the confirmation process.

“I’m not sure why we’re having this hearing,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, according to The Miami-Herald.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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