Republican Senator Susan Collins to oppose Neera Tanden's nomination
The White House said President Joe Biden stands behind Neera Tanden’s nomination as budget director, even as opposition from Republican Senator Susan Collins made Tanden’s already fraught path to confirmation even more difficult.
“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,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, after Collins announced her opposition.
Psaki’s statement was similar to the message the White House sent after Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said he too would vote against Tanden, meaning she would need support of at least one Republican to be successful in the Senate, which is divided 50-50 along party lines. Collins is one of the Senate’s most centrist Republicans, so her opposition is a significant setback for the White House.
“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, a moderate from Maine, said in a Monday morning statement. “Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency.”
Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond told NPR Monday that the president still believed Tanden could be confirmed, despite opposition from Collins and Manchin.
“You named two out of 100, so there are 98 left and we’re going to continue to make the case for her, and she’s going to continue her meetings and her outreach that she’s been doing,” Richmond said. She’s immensely qualified for the position, and the president believes in her.”
Tanden, who has led the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress, faces strong Republican opposition over some of her sarcastic social media postings.
Collins cited Tanden’s posts as part of the reason for her opposition.
“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 said, adding, “Should Congress need to review documents or actions taken by OMB, we must have confidence that the Director will be forthcoming.”
Collins also said Tanden’s “past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.”
During her nomination hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Tanden was chastised by Chairman Bernie Sanders for her past tweets and she pledged to refrain from making personal attacks -- such as those she had directed at Sanders in the past.
It wasn’t enough for Collins.
“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,” Collins said Monday.
If Tanden’s nomination fails, that could further delay the development of Biden’s fiscal 2022 federal budget proposal, which is already behind schedule and which is the first step in the funding process for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The OMB director is also in charge of promulgating regulations and acts as a liaison between the White House and federal agencies.
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