WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday closely questioned Peter Orszag, who is nominated to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the incoming Obama Administration. The Committee also questioned Robert Nabors, who is nominated as Deputy Director.

The Committee likely will not vote on the nominations, which instead are expected to be held on the Senate floor so the two nominees can be confirmed as quickly as possible after the President-Elect is sworn into office January 20, 2009.

“These nominations come at a time of unprecedented budgetary and economic peril for the nation, which means challenges beyond the normal for OMB and those who will lead it,” Lieberman said. “The economy is facing a painful recession at the same time our government faces massive budget deficits. In response, the incoming Obama Administration is putting together a major recovery package, developing plans to achieve long-term budget stability, and at the same time instituting an ambitious process to improve performance and reduce costs of government. Those are difficult and critically important undertakings, and OMB must be a leader in all of them. So the two of you have your work cut out for you.”

Collins said: “The federal budget is under tremendous stress from the impacts of a deep recession and the costs of rescue and stimulus packages. Spiraling entitlement costs are driving long-term budgetary imbalances. And the next few years will also see the cresting waves of Baby Boom retirements, with enormous impacts on Social Security and Medicare expenditures, as well as on our federal workforce. Pointing to these trends and to the estimated $1.2 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year, Dr. Orszag comes before the Committee with an impressive set of skills and experiences that have given him important perspectives that will prove valuable if confirmed as OMB director. ”

Lieberman asked Orszag a number of questions about the President-Elect’s much anticipated stimulus package. And he grilled the nominee on the long-term economic outlook for the nation.

“For decades, we have depended on the willingness of our trading partners to subsidize our consumer and government deficits,” Lieberman said. “The result has been large trade deficits and a gradual transfer of wealth from the United States to foreign nations, notably China and the Middle East. Over the long term, and perhaps now in the short term, this is not just undesirable, it is unsustainable.”