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Biden faces defeat in getting Tanden confirmed, withdraws nomination

Neera Tanden
Posted at 5:08 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 08:09:27-05

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he is withdrawing the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Budget and Management, signifying that her confirmation likely would have come short of reaching 50 votes in the Senate.

The announcement comes a week after Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he would not vote to confirm Tanden. The Biden administration remained bullish on getting her confirmed, and looked toward Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to join Democrats in getting her confirmed.

But even some Democrats seemed apprehensive about supporting Tanden.

“I have accepted Neera Tanden’s request to withdraw her name from nomination for Director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Biden said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for her record of accomplishment, her experience and her counsel, and I look forward to having her serve in a role in my Administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work.”

Tanden acknowledged that she was likely not going to be confirmed in a letter to Biden.

“I appreciate how hard you and your team at the White House has worked to win my confirmation,” Tanden said. “Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities.”

Last month, Tanden faced sharp criticism from members of the Senate Budget Committee who questioned her for past tweets she sent about members of Congress. Manchin said that the tweets in question would cause a “toxic” and “detrimental impact” on the relationship between the Office of Management and Budget and Congress.

“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 [Bernie] Sanders to Senator [Mitch] 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. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination. As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”

Tanden has since deleted at least dozens of the tweets in question. Tanden answered for those tweets last week before the Senate Budget Committee.

"I don’t mind disagreements in policy, I think that’s great,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, said. “I love the dialectic. But the comments were personal. I mean you called Sen. Sanders everything but an 'ignorant slut.'”

“That is not true, senator.” Tanden responded.

“When you said these things, did you mean them?” Kennedy asked.

“Senator, I have to say, I deeply regret my comments,” Tanden answered.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also confronted Tanden for her past words.

“You've been a very partisan figure and very tough figure when it comes to political discourse and that's okay, too,” Graham said. “But calling Mitch McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ is probably not a very good thing to say. Suggesting that the minority leader is somehow in the pocket of the Russians. The GOP’s capacity for evil ‘knows no bounds.’ I'm sure a lot of people in America believe that. I'm not one of them.”

Sanders took issue with Tanden’s leadership with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank group that reportedly received $38 million in corporate donations. A Washington Post report suggested that the group was backed by foreign and corporate interests.

“At a time when the wealthy and large corporations have extraordinary influence over the economic and political life of this country, I must tell you that I am concerned about the corporate donations the Center for American Progress has received under your leadership,” Sanders said. “Before I vote to confirm your nomination, it is important for this committee to know that those donations will not influence your decision making at OMB.”

“I think one of the reasons that so many people are disillusioned with politics in America and given up on democracy and politicians make promises and they run away from those promises,” Sanders added.

Tanden told Sanders that her past work with corporate donors with the Center for American Progress would not affect her ability to perform the job.

“It will have zero impact on my decision making,” she said. “I'm actually capped in a number of positions that disagreed vigorously with the policy of those institutions and I appreciate this question and it is my role, it will be my role to ensure that I am only serving the interests of the American people, the administration and its agenda to address rising inequality and address the needs of working families.”