Neera Tanden’s Senate committee votes postponed
Neera Tanden saw both of her Senate committee votes postponed Wednesday morning as her nomination to lead the White House budget office nears the brink of collapse and as bipartisan appetite to elevate an alternative nominee grows.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Budget committees sent out notices Wednesday saying that their slated votes on Tanden’s nomination to become director of the Office of Management and Budget would be delayed.
“We are postponing the business meeting because members need more time to consider the nominee,” said a Democratic aide on the Homeland Security committee. “The president deserves to have a team in place that he wants, and we’re going to work with our members to figure out the best path forward.”
Meanwhile, the Senate’s top Republican appropriator said he would support Shalanda Young, the former clerk and staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, to lead OMB if Tanden’s nomination implodes.
“I believe she would be good in that role,” Sen. Richard Shelby said in a statement. “She’s smart, she knows the process inside-out, and she’s an honest broker who has demonstrated the ability to work with both sides and get things done.”
“She would have my support, and I suspect many of my Republican colleagues would support her, as well,” the Alabama Republican said. “But that’s up to the Biden administration.”
When asked about Young as a potential replacement for Tanden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday: “There’s one nominee to lead the budget department. Her name is Neera Tanden, and that’s who we’re continuing to fight for.”
Young, who has extensive knowledge of federal spending after 14 years on the committee and boasts a long record of working alongside Republicans in high-stakes spending negotiations, also has backing from top Democrats.
Before the White House nominated Tanden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) all backed Young for OMB’s top job, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The Congressional Black Caucus is also preparing to send a letter to the White House pushing for her nomination to the helm of OMB, should Tanden’s nomination get pulled, according to a former senior aide.
“As soon as I saw Neera getting pushback, it was like, Shalanda is going to roll into this,” one House Democratic lawmaker told POLITICO. “She’s a rockstar. She’s just so competent and so savvy and just knows the process so well that she’s just a natural fit.”
Signs of trouble for Tanden began late last week, when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that he would oppose her nomination, citing her previous tweets criticizing senators in both parties. Manchin’s opposition means that Tanden would need at least one Republican to support her in order for her to be confirmed.
But as public opposition grew this week from moderates like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Tanden’s nomination neared an implosion.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another moderate, has not yet said whether she’ll support the nominee. Murkowski was among the Senate Republicans Tanden had targeted over the years, jabbing at the Alaska Republican during the 2017 tax debate.
After Murkowski claimed on Twitter that lowering the corporate tax rate would help bring back jobs and grow the economy, Tanden replied: “No offense but this sounds like you’re high on your own supply. You know, we know, and everyone knows this is all garbage. Just stop.” The tweet was still up as of Wednesday.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who sits on the Homeland Security committee, has also not indicated how she’ll vote on Tanden.
The White House so far is showing little sign of accepting defeat. Even after the postponement of Tanden’s first committee vote, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that “Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis.”
Prior to her Senate confirmation, Tanden tweeted that Collins was “the worst,” compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Voldemort, the Harry Potter villain, and insulted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who chairs the Budget committee.
Sanders was not consulted before President Joe Biden’s nomination of Tanden, according to a source close to the process.
During her confirmation hearing, Tanden said she felt “badly” about the tweets and vowed that her “approach will be radically different.”
Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle contributed to this report.