WH won’t give up on Neera Tanden as confirmation votes are postponed: ‘Need more time to assess it’

Joe Biden isn’t backing down on embattled budget nominee Neera Tanden as two Senate committees postponed votes on her confirmation – and the Government Affairs Committee Chairman said Democrats ‘need more time to assess it.’

‘We are committed to continuing to fight for all of our nominees,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday, ‘continuing to do the outreach needed, to answer questions, to address concerns anyone has, to reiterate the qualifications of all of the nominees that the president has put forward. And to do due diligence in fighting for the team he’s nominated.’

Psaki suggested the postponements are promising, claiming Democratic leadership is ‘conveying clearly that they want to continue to do work to build support for her nomination.’

Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, announced Wednesday morning he is postponing a vote on confirming Tanden to head the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The Budget Committee was meant to meet to further Tanden’s confirmation Wednesday, but Sanders will now hold that vote at a later, unspecified date.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also postponed their vote on Tanden’s nomination.

‘We’re just, some members wanted some more time to kind of review it, so we’re just going to give them more time,’ Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the committee, told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday.

‘Is that Democrats on your committee?’ a reporter pushed.

‘I don’t want to get into specifics but people needed a little bit more time to assess it,’ he said, adding that his committee has not rescheduled a vote on Tanden’s nomination. 

Senator Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, announced Wednesday he is postponing the vote to further Tanden’s nomination to head the White House Office of Management and Budget

OMB director nominee Neera Tande

Senator Bernie Sanders

Tanden’s past tweets have personally attacked Sanders, who she would regularly interact with if confirmed as head of the White House budget office

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Petters, who also delayed the vote on Tanden, said Wednesday: 'People needed a little bit more time to assess' her nomination

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Petters, who also delayed the vote on Tanden, said Wednesday: ‘People needed a little bit more time to assess’ her nomination

Tanden has faced backlash for transparency and unity issues after deleting more than 1,000 tweets before her nomination, which were found to personally attack politicians on both sides of the aisle – including Sanders.

Her confirmation was effectively sunk after Democratic centrist Senator Joe Manchin said last week he would vote against her over her ‘toxic’ tweets. 

During a confirmation hearing earlier this month, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana brought up Tanden’s attacks against her own party.

‘The comments were personal,’ Kennedy, who sits on the Budget Committee, said when interacting with Tanden. ‘I mean, you call Senator Sanders everything but an ignorant sl*t.’

‘That is not true,’ she pushed back before expressing regret for her tweets.

As OMB head, Tanden would regularly interact with Biden as chair of Budget. The independent Vermont senator reminded her of their past at her hearing earlier this month.

‘Your attacks were not just made against Republicans,’ he said. ‘There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally.’

Top ranking Budget Committee Republican Lindsey Graham read one of Tanden’s tweets during her hearing, which referenced the bitter 2016 nomination fight between Hillary Clinton and Sanders.

‘Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal e-mails did to help Hillary,’ Tanden wrote, siding with Clinton.

President Biden said Tuesday that still believes there is a ‘good shot’ that Tanden will be confirmed to head his Office of Management and Budget – despite Senator Joe Manchin effectively sinking her chances by announcing he will vote against the nominee.

‘We’re going to push. We still think there’s a shot, a good shot,’ Biden said at the end of a round table at the White House on Tuesday when asked about his confidence in Tanden’s nomination.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito became the latest Republican moderate to announce Tuesday that she will not cross the party line to help confirm Biden’s cabinet pick.

Capito joined her West Virginia Democratic colleague Manchin, as well as Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, in coming out against the budget nominee.

Tanden’s nomination was supposed to move out of committee on Wednesday with a subsequent Budget vote.

Her nomination is expected to fail in the Appropriations Committee, where Senators Manchin, Collins and Republican Lisa Murkowski all serve.

With Manchin’s opposition, Democrats need one Republican to vote in favor of Tanden’s nomination to get her on Biden’s cabinet as a permanent fixture.

Some of Tanden's tweets specifically called out Bernie Sanders, his supporters and other figures within the progressive movement

Some of Tanden’s tweets specifically called out Bernie Sanders, his supporters and other figures within the progressive movement

One last hope could be Alaska Senator Murkowkski, a moderate who voted for Trump’s impeachment conviction earlier this month along with fellow Republicans Romney, Collins and four others.

But the senator has remained undecided – or at least kept her thinking on the matter to herself.

‘When do you expect to make a decision on the Tanden nomination,’ a reporter asked Murkowski at the Capitol Tuesday.

‘Well, she’s supposed to move out of committee today, is that right?’ the Alaska Republican posed.


‘Well, I’ve got time then,’ she shot back.

It now appears she has more time than she thought to make a decision with Sanders’ postponing the vote in the Budget Committee on Tanden.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden has been working those on Capitol Hill to try and garner some Republican support for Tanden. She said he has held talks with dozens of senators on Tanden’s nomination.

Psaki also said Biden’s confidence in Tanden to run the OMB has not changed despite revelations of transparency and unity issues related to her deleting more than 1,000 tweets personally attacking lawmakers before she was nominated to a cabinet post.

Tanden, during her confirmation hearing earlier this month, apologized for her previous tweets.

In her tenure, Tanden has served as a staffer to Hillary Clinton since her 2000 election to the Senate and later in her 2008 presidential run, and again in 2016 when Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination and was ultimately bested by Donald Trump.

Tanden also helped draft the Affordable Care Act during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Earlier this month, Tanden appeared before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Budget Committee the next day. During those hearings, she repeatedly expressed remorse for her Twitter activity.

She said she deleted the tweets because she did not agree with the tone.

Following Manchin’s opposition to Tanden’s nomination, which effectively killed her chances of confirmation, two key Republican senators, who often skirt the party line, followed suit – Romney of Utah and Collins of Maine.

Manchin announced on Friday that he would oppose Tanden running OMB, citing the ‘toxic’ impact of her tweets insulting fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Then on Monday the West Virginia centrist Democrat revealed he is undecided about Haalan, who will appear before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Manchin chairs, for her confirmation hearing Tuesday.

It was the first major party defection of the young Biden administration.

The Office of Management and Budget touches on nearly every aspect of major policy.

Democratic centrist Senator Joe Manchin effectively sunk Tanden's nomination last week when announcing he would vote against her confirmation over her 'toxic' tweets

Democratic centrist Senator Joe Manchin effectively sunk Tanden’s nomination last week when announcing he would vote against her confirmation over her ‘toxic’ tweets

‘The OMB needs steady, experienced, responsive leadership. I will vote against confirming Ms. Tanden,’ Collins, who represents Maine, released in a statement Monday.

‘Congress has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent,’ Collins wrote in her statement denouncing Biden’s pick. ‘Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency. Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.’

‘In addition, Ms. Tanden’s decision to delete more than a thousand tweets in the days before her nomination was announced raises concerns about her commitment to transparency,’ she continued.

‘Should Congress need to review documents or actions taken by OMB, we must have confidence that the Director will be forthcoming.’

A spokesperson for Romney released a statement Monday, as well, saying: ‘Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position. He believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.’

Tanden in a now-deleted tweet called Collins ‘the worst’ and attacked her in another tweet for her questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

‘Susan Collins’ terrible treatment of Dr. Ford should haunt Collins the rest of her days,’ Tanden tweeted during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, when Blasey Ford raised allegations against him.

She also deleted a slew of other offensive tweets aimed at lawmakers from both parties – including several directed toward Sanders and his supporters.

The White House, however, is not backing down on Tanden’s nomination – instead bolstering support for her confirmation.

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

With a 50-50 split Senate, Manchin holds a lot of power as the most centrist left-leaning senator.

Collins and Romney are two of the few Republican senators who occasionally voted with Democrats – most recently both voted in favor of Donald Trump’s impeachment conviction.

No other Democrats have said if they plan to vote against Tanden’s nomination.

Manchin and Collins are close. In 2020, the West Virginia senator endorsed Collins’ reelection and they also worked together on the most recent COVID-19 relief package.

Manchin has also entertained moderates, including Collins, on ‘Almost Heaven’ – his houseboat docked in the Potomac.

In the 2020 election, the Senate became split down the middle giving any Democratic defector veto power over legislation they don’t like and effectively making moderate Manchin the most influential lawmaker in the upper chamber.

Biden told reporters as he returned to Washington from a trip to Michigan Thursday he was not pulling her nomination.

‘I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed,’ he said.

Tanden has been criticized by Republicans over her past harsh comments on social media, such as calling Mitch McConnell, the party’s leader in the Senate, ‘Moscow Mitch’ and saying ‘vampires have more heart than (Senator) Ted Cruz.’

‘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 Sanders to Senator 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,’ he said.

Manchin cited Tanden’s ‘public statements and tweets’ in his decision not to confirm.

‘I recognize the concern. I deeply regret and apologize for my language, and some of my past language,’ Tanden said at her confirmation hearing.

When Biden picked Tanden, chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank in Washington, Republicans pointed to her past strong comments on Twitter, such as referring to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell as ‘Moscow Mitch’ and saying ‘vampires have more heart than (Senator) Ted Cruz.’

In addition to calling Cruz a vampire, she once referred to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ‘Voldemort’ from the Harry Potter series. 

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