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Cornyn. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Texas Sen. John Cornyn is frustrating both administration officials and conservative movement leaders by holding up the confirmation of Russ Vought to be Mick Mulvaney's right hand man at the Office of Management and Budget.

Cornyn — a member of Senate leadership who has a strong say over the floor schedule — has made it clear that Vought will be held up until he gets more funding for Texas' hurricane relief, according to three sources close to the situation. It's unclear how Cornyn has phrased his demand or how much extra money, exactly, he's asking for, but his message has been heard loud and clear by top Trump administration officials.

Cornyn's office didn't respond to multiple requests for comment for this story. Sources said the next supplemental bill — and therefore Vought's confirmation — could be held up for at least another month.

Why this matters: Vought is a top White House priority and is considered a leader in the conservative movement. Social conservatives rallied around him and his profile exploded after his confirmation hearing in June when he clashed with Sen. Bernie Sanders over his religious beliefs. Vought wrote a blog post in which he described his Christian faith and said that those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior "stand condemned." Sanders then accused him of "racism and bigotry" because of that post.

A sample of the anger: A senior conservative congressional aide texted Axios: “It is unfortunate Senator Cornyn is holding Russell Vought's nomination hostage for more emergency funding for Texas. That a member of Republican leadership would block such an integral member of the president's team at OMB is disturbing. Congress has already approved two tranches of emergency supplemental appropriations without corresponding offsets - both of which were supported by Senator Cornyn. Yet blocking an important nomination like the nominee for deputy director at OMB only breeds further disdain among the conservative movement and Senate leadership.”

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.