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Democrat to oppose Biden’s Budget pick, putting confirmation in jeopardy

Biden Cabinet Budget Director
Posted at 2:06 PM, Feb 19, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, announced Friday that he will oppose the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Following news of Manchin's opposition, both Biden and White House press secretary said that the White House remains committed to pushing Tanden's nomination through the Senate.

“I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed," Biden told reporters when he returned to Washington on Friday following a trip to Michigan.

"Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties," said Psaki.

Last week, Tanden faced sharp criticism from members of the Senate Budget Committee who questioned her for past tweets she sent about members of Congress. Manchin said that the tweets in question would cause a “toxic” and “detrimental impact” on the relationship between the Office of Management and Budget and Congress.

“I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator [Bernie] Sanders to Senator [Mitch] McConnell and others,” Manchin said in a statement. “I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination. As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”

Tanden has since deleted at least dozens of the tweets in question. Tanden answered for those tweets last week before the Senate Budget Committee.

"I don’t mind disagreements in policy, I think that’s great,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, said. “I love the dialectic. But the comments were personal. I mean you called Sen. Sanders everything but an 'ignorant slut.'”

“That is not true, senator.” Tanden responded.

“When you said these things, did you mean them?” Kennedy asked.

“Senator, I have to say, I deeply regret my comments,” Tanden answered.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also confronted Tanden for her past words.

“You've been a very partisan figure and very tough figure when it comes to political discourse and that's okay, too,” Graham said. “But calling Mitch McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ is probably not a very good thing to say. Suggesting that the minority leader is somehow in the pocket of the Russians. The GOP’s capacity for evil ‘knows no bounds.’ I'm sure a lot of people in America believe that. I'm not one of them.”

Given the 50/50 composition of the US Senate, her nomination now is in jeopardy. It's unclear whether she would have the support of any Republicans.

Sanders took issue with Tanden’s leadership with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank group that reportedly received $38 million in corporate donations. A Washington Post report suggested that the group was backed by foreign and corporate interests.

“At a time when the wealthy and large corporations have extraordinary influence over the economic and political life of this country, I must tell you that I am concerned about the corporate donations the Center for American Progress has received under your leadership,” Sanders said. “Before I vote to confirm your nomination, it is important for this committee to know that those donations will not influence your decision making at OMB.”

“I think one of the reasons that so many people are disillusioned with politics in America and given up on democracy and politicians make promises and they run away from those promises,” Sanders added.

Tanden told Sanders that her past work with corporate donors with the Center for American Progress would not affect her ability to perform the job.

“It will have zero impact on my decision making,” she said. “I'm actually capped in a number of positions that disagreed vigorously with the policy of those institutions and I appreciate this question and it is my role, it will be my role to ensure that I am only serving the interests of the American people, the administration and its agenda to address rising inequality and address the needs of working families.”