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House Budget Committee Approves Holtz-Eakin as CBO Director

The House Budget Committee unanimously approved the appointment of a new director of the Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday, but not without some Members expressing concern about his White House political ties.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who currently serves as chief economist on President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, will serve as director until Jan. 3, 2007, pending final approval by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate President Pro Tem Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

While impressed with Holtz-Eakin’s professional credentials, Budget ranking member John Spratt (D-S.C.) said he is worried the new director will bring with him an allegiance to and affinity for the White House, leading to a less independent CBO.

“This agency is neutral and nonpartisan,” Spratt said. “If he brings these [ties] with him we won’t have autonomy.”

Spratt, who voted in favor of the nomination, later said he hopes this will not happen, but wanted to bring the matter to the attention of others.

Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) said he is sure Holtz-Eakin will keep the CBO as pristine as it has been in the past.

“No one came with completely clean hands when it comes to politics,” Nussle said. “The professionalism [Holtz-Eakin] brings to the job will provide us with good, accurate information.”

Holtz-Eakin is on leave from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, where he is a trustee professor of economics and is editor of the National Tax Journal.

While working at Syracuse, Holtz-Eakin has served as the chairman of the economics department and associate director for the Center for Policy Research. Since 1985, he has been a faculty research fellow and research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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