Two Moderate Senators Announce Opposition to Biden’s OMB Pick, Making Confirmation Path Trickier
Republican and Democratic senators condemned Neera Tanden’s partisan history and mean tweets.
Two senators affirmed in recent days they will not support President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, making the nominee's confirmation path more difficult.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, made their announcements about Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, on Friday and Monday, respectively. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Budget committees will both vote on Tanden on Wednesday. Both must report her favorably before the full Senate can take up her nomination. Neither Manchin nor Collins are on those committees.
“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,” Manchin said. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination...We must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”
Bipartisan work “is more important than ever” in order to “address the many serious challenges facing our nation,” he added.
“The director of OMB is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the federal budget and plays a significant role in any administration’s fiscal and regulatory agenda,” Collins said. “Congress has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner...Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead the critical agency.”
She added that Tanden’s deleting of tweets critical of Republican lawmakers ahead of her confirmation “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.”
Sen. Mitt Romeny, R-Utah, will also not support her nomination, according to Politico. He was previously seen as a potential supporter. Romney is on both of the committees considering her nomination.
During a news conference on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D- N.Y., said he’s working with Biden to “find the extra votes,” so Tanden can be confirmed, CNN reported. Since Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate (50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking tie votes), they won’t be able to confirm Tanden on their own.
Shortly after the news broke about Collins, the White House reiterated its support for Tanden. “Neera Tanden=accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefited from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Monday morning.
If confirmed, Tanden will lead OMB’s workforce, which was about 466 full-time employees in fiscal 2019, to develop the president’s budget request; oversee federal agencies’ performance, procurement, financial management and information technology; and coordinate federal rulemaking.
Tanden pledged during her confirmation hearings to champion transparency and oversight with the budget, coronavirus spending and the rulemaking process. She also apologized for the mean tweets, which she said she regrets.
“I also know the role of OMB director is different from some of my past positions,” as this role “calls for bipartisan action, as well as a nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence,” she testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on February 9.
Rob Fairweather, an OMB career staffer, is serving as acting director of OMB until a nominee is confirmed.