Senate Committees Advance Nominee for No. 2 Spot at OMB
The White House has yet to name a new pick for director after Neera Tanden withdrew last week.
Two Senate committees voted Wednesday to advance President Biden’s nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, clearing the way for a vote in the full chamber.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Budget committees both had to report Shalanda Young favorably before the full Senate could consider the nomination. The vote will come amid calls from lawmakers in both parties for Young to be tapped as OMB director, after Biden’s original pick, Neera Tanden, withdrew last week.
“I started my career as a civil servant at [the National Institutes of Health]. I understand how much more this country has benefited by having a motivated federal workforce who shows up every day [and] goes over and beyond,” Young said before the Senate Budget Committee on March 2. “They could be in private industry, a lot of them, making more than they do in their government service. So it's not about a job for the federal workers that I’ve known and worked with. It’s about service.”
Therefore, if confirmed, she said one of the things she hopes to do “certainly within OMB, is to empower and bring a lot of that back to career staff.” She said she would aim “to let them know that we appreciate their service, we trust that they are good stewards of federal policy.”
Before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on March 4, Young pledged to find budget solutions to avoid future government shutdowns, work on a federal program inventory to cut wasteful and duplicative programs, be transparent with Congress, ensure agencies cooperate with the Government Accountability Office and inspectors general, and bolster fairness in the rule-making process.
“With fourteen years of congressional experience on budgetary and appropriations matters, Young fully understands the operations and needs of federal agencies, and the challenges they face,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, in a statement on Tuesday. “I urge the committees and the full Senate to quickly confirm Young so she can get to work helping the Biden administration craft a budget and prepare a comprehensive management agenda.”
The vote in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was along party lines, 7-6. (Although it was tied 7-7 with one proxy vote for the Republicans, proxy votes cannot affect the outcome of in-person committee votes).
The vote had been expected to be more bipartisan, but Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and James Lankford, R-Okla., said they ended up voting against Young because of her remarks on limiting the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds for abortions except in the cases of rape or a pregnancy that is endangering the woman’s life.
The vote in the Senate Budget Committee was a little more bipartisan, at 14-8.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said "I could not disagree more" with her stand on the Hyde Amendment and voted in support of her in committee "with the understanding she must answer an additional question about her position" on it before he decides what his final vote will be.
Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki urged Congress to move quickly on Young’s nomination because, if confirmed, Young could serve as acting head of OMB. During a briefing on Monday Psaki said President Biden hasn’t made a decision yet on his new nominee for director, amid calls for it to be Young.
Biden “thinks so highly of” Young, which is why she was tapped for a senior position at OMB, Psaki reiterated. As for Neera Tanden, “the president is committed to her serving in a role in the administration because he values her perspective and her experience.”
In an interview with Punchbowl News on Tuesday night, White House Chief-of-Staff Ron Klain said Young is “certainly a very serious candidate for the lead position in OMB,” but the priority right now is for the Senate to confirm her as deputy, so she can become the acting head.
“She is an enormously talented person. We're grateful to have her as part of the team,” he said. “And she is definitely under consideration for the top post.”
Those who have come out in support of Young to be OMB director include: top members of the Congressional Black Caucus; Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.; Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee; and Democrats in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Jason Miller, nominee to be OMB deputy director for management, also testified with Young before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on March 4, but the committee has yet to vote on him.
Update: This article has been updated with a quote from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.