With opposition signaled from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Susan Collins (R-ME), among others, two Senate committees decided on Wednesday to delay final votes to push Neera Tanden’s nomination to the White House Office of Management and Budget to the Senate floor. With the Senate split narrowly down the middle, the White House cannot afford to lose that many votes for any of Biden’s nominees. The delay decision foretells the likelihood that Biden is going to have to pick someone else to run his budget affairs.
“The White House budget office is at a pivotal juncture, tasked with writing Biden’s budget and overseeing the disbursal of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to rescue the ailing U.S. economy, once Congress passes Biden’s stimulus bill,” reports the Washington Post.
“The White House continued to defend Tanden’s candidacy on Wednesday despite the obstacles,” the Post continued. “Manchin and Republican lawmakers have argued Tanden’s sometimes personal tweets about lawmakers, but the administration has defended Tanden as a policy expert well suited to lead the budget office.”
Even with some on the Democrat side expressing doubts about her appropriateness in the role – particularly given Biden’s stated claims of wanting unity and bipartisanship – the White House is continuing to back Tanden.
“Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis,” tweeted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “She has a broad spectrum of support, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to labor unions, and has a strong record of working with both parties that we expect to grow in President Biden’s cabinet as the first South Asian woman to lead OMB.”
But some senators were confused as to why the president would bother nominating someone with such a lousy shot at confirmation.
”Doesn’t seem like she had much of a chance,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “There’s a part of me that says, why do you put people up for positions — and this isn’t just Biden that does this — where you know they have so much baggage that it’s going to be a difficult climb?”
Biden himself said Tuesday, “We’re going to push. We still think there’s a shot, a good shot.”
Biden may be putting up a brave face, but reports have it that the White House is already casting about for someone to replace Tanden. Chief prospects at the moment include Shalanda Young, currently tapped to be the deputy director of OMB, Ann O’Leary, who was chief of staff to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), and Gene Sperling, who has worked as an economic aide under Clinton and Obama.