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Nussle to Replace Portman at OMB

Former House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) will be named this afternoon to replace former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to Capitol Hill and administration sources.

Nussle left Congress last year after eight terms in a failed bid to become governor of Iowa and subsequently set up a consulting firm with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Northern Virginia. Nussle said at the time that he was not closing any doors to returning to politics but had no plans to run again. He also hoped to help clients navigate Iowa’s presidential caucuses.

President Bush has scheduled an announcement this afternoon to name the new OMB director.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised Portman. “Portman was a pleasure to work with … I hope [Nussle is] as easy to work with as Portman,” Reid said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted a point of kinship with Nussle. “Mr. Nussle is a Dane,” he said, noting that he himself is of Danish heritage. He later added: “I don’t know Mr. Nussle very well and I’ve said what I’m going to say.”

Then he went on anyway, stating that from 2001-06, Congress “pursued the most fiscally irresponsible policies” he’d ever seen.

Portman served as a Member from Ohio from 1993 to 2005 before he was chosen by Bush to serve as U.S. Trade Representative.

His office said Portman was looking forward to spending more time with his family, including three teenagers, after 14 years of commuting from Cincinnati to Washington, D.C.

Portman told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he might run for governor in 2010 or Senate in 2012, when Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown would face re-election. Brown is a leading skeptic of recent free-trade deals while Portman helped negotiate them.

Portman also occasionally has been mentioned in presidential politics as a potential future candidate or vice presidential pick.

— Steven T. Dennis, Jennifer Yachnin and Emily Pierce

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