President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden is suffering a major blowback Monday in dooming her chances to be confirmed as three moderate Republicans and one Democrat have all said in recent days that they will not vote on supporting her nomination.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the first senator to publicly oppose Tanden’s confirmation, releasing a statement on Friday citing the avid tweeter for her past personal insults tweets towards GOP senators and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during her tenure serving as president of a far-left aligned Center for American Progress.
“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 Sanders to Senator McConnell and others,” Manchin said. “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.”
Following the news of Manchin announcing that he would vote against Tanden, Biden was asked by reporters following his Michigan trip if he was going to pull her nomination, replying “no,” but remained hopeful about her candidacy, saying, “I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed.”
On Monday, Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Rob Portman of Ohio delivered a triple blow separately, all opposing Tanden’s nomination and crushing any hopes of confirming her to run the most powerful post to implement Biden’s federal spending policies.
In separate statements explaining their decisions, the three GOP senators all cited Tanden’s harsh rhetoric towards lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as reason denouncing placing such a partisan figure in the powerful role that requires bipartisan collaboration.
“Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position,” Romney’s spokeswoman said, confirming the Utah Senator’s opposition. “He believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.”
Collins argued that Tanden had “neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency.”
“Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend,” Collins said.
Portman, who previously served as the head of OMB during the George W. Bush administration, noted her “lack of experience on key issues” needed to be the budget chief.
“I believe that the tone, the content, and the aggressive partisanship of some of Ms. Tanden’s public statements will make it more difficult for her to work effectively with both parties in this role,” Portman said in a statement late Monday afternoon, becoming the fourth senator to oppose Tanden’s nomination. “I’m also concerned about her decision to delete thousands of tweets in the month after the election and the lack of transparency in her decision to do so, as well as her lack of experience on key issues for OMB, such as the regulatory and budgeting processes.”
Despite her confirmation appearing to be mathematically impossible to reach the 51 threshold, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki avoided answering the repetitive question directly that dominated the press briefing and focused on defending the pick by highlighting Tanden’s qualifications.
“The President nominated her because he believes [Tanden] would be a stellar OMB Director,” Psaki said when asked about her path following Manchin, Collins, and Romney’s statement. “This is a process confirmations in getting individuals confirmed. She has two committee votes this week, and we’re working toward that. And we’ll continue to work in supporting her nomination.”
When pressed if the White House sees a path to 50 votes, Psaki responded, “We do,” before reiterating Tanden’s personal life and experience as a lobbyist.
“And what she brings to the table is not only decades of policy experience but and expertise and leadership of a major think tank in this city, but also somebody who has lived experience. You know, she grew up as the daughter of a single mother, somebody who benefited from many of the programs that she would be tasked with determining the recommendations on funding for,” Psaki said.
After being picked as budget chief, Tanden before her Senate hearing deleted over thousand of tweets attacking GOP lawmakers with bombastic criticism for supporting President Trump, with some targeting them personally. According to the Daily Beast, who was the first to track her Twitter -deleting frenzy over a two-week period reported that on November 16 after being announced to be Biden’s budget chief pick, Tanden had 88,639 tweets published. In over the two-week span, using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine by December 1 in the morning, Tanden has over 87,600 tweets published, but at night it was down further to 87,500.
Earlier this month at one of her confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the longtime Hillary Clinton adviser attempted to apologize for “some” of her past tweets and language she had tweeted in an effort to ask the senators for their forgiveness and in hopes “to earn their trust,” as part of her opening statement.
“I deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language. I recognize that this role is a bipartisan role, and I know I have to earn the trust of senators across the board,” Tanden said earlier this month, but blamed her tweets in part on Trump’s presidency that contributed to her controversy. “I do think the last several years have been very polarizing and I apologize for my language that has contributed to that.”
During the Senators’ five-minute interrogation period, Portman ran through a litany of tweeted attacks on GOP senators that were weighing her nomination.
“You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz, you called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort,” Portman said, noting he still had over “nine pages of tweets about Sen. Ted Cruz.”
Tanden told the Ohio GOP Senator that she didn’t delete those tweets as a coverup.
“I deleted tweets because I regretted my tone and I’ve deleted tweets over many months … But for those concerned about my rhetoric and my language, I’m sorry, and I’m sorry for any hurt that they’ve caused,” Tanden said.
Sanders has not said publicly whether he will vote for Tanden, Meanwhile, progressive groups with ties to the Sanders sought to further derail the nomination by organizing a Twitter storm, with the hashtag #RejectTanden to encourage all senators on both sides of the aisles, including the Democratic Socialist, to reject Tanden. One group, RootsAction pointed to the donations the Center for American Progress received from foreign governments along Tanden’s previous tweets supporting cuts to social safety net programs, the one the White House gloated as someone who benefited from the use of it growing up.
“Tanden has become known as one of the most prominent anti-progressive voices of the neoliberal establishment,” RootsAction said in a background document.
Tanden did not immediately respond to the reporter’s request for comments about whether she plans to remain in the running for the job.