Joe biden admin: Indian-American Neera Tanden gets big White House promotion

Indian-American Neera Tanden has been named staff secretary to President Joe Biden, a job that will put her in control of all documents headed for the president.
Indian-American Neera Tanden has been named staff secretary to President Joe Biden, a job that will put her in control of all documents headed for the president. (AP)
Indian-American Neera Tanden has been named staff secretary to President Joe Biden, a job that will put her in control of all documents headed for the president. (AP)
Updated on Oct 22, 2021 09:45 PM IST
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ByYashwant Raj I Edited by Amit Chanda

Indian-American Neera Tanden has been named staff secretary to President Joe Biden, a job that will put her in control of all documents headed for the president.

It’s a big promotion as the post is considered to be a stepping stone to higher office - the alumni includes Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and former White House chief of staff John Podesta - it is still not a cabinet post that she was nominated to be but did not get earlier because of bipartisan opposition from lawmakers angered by her testy tweets.

Neera Tanden will be the first person of colour to hold the position, and the first Indian-American.

Tanden will retain her designation of White House senior adviser, in which role she has advised the president on an entire range of issues, The Washington Post said, adding, she will be reporting to White House chief of staff Ronald Klain, who announced the appointment in a morning call with his staff.

President Biden had nominated her last year to head the Office of Budget and Management, which is a key cabinet post and it would have made her the first Indian-American to hold a federal cabinet position (Nikki Haley held a cabinet-rank post as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to UN).

Neera Tanden’s nomination was withdrawn shortly, at her urging, in the face of persisting opposition from lawmakers who had been the target of some very vicious tweets from her in the past. She had faced intense grilling from lawmakers from both parties at two confirmations hearings.

“Your attacks were not just made against Republicans,” senator Bernie Sanders, who had been a major target for her in the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination. “There were vicious attacks against progressives, people who I have worked with - me personally.”

President Biden named Neera Tanden a senior adviser after the confirmation fiasco and kept her on as a key member of his team. Her elevation to the post of staff secretary does not require to be confirmed by the senate.

Tanden came to the Biden from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, which she headed as president and CEO. Earlier, she had served in the department of health and human services and served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008.

Neera Tanden was born in Massachusetts in 1970 to parents from India, who divorced when she was five. Tanden and her brother were brought up by their mother.

Tanden has spoken of her family banking on food coupons to get by. She went on to the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University where she studied law.

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Saturday, December 04, 2021