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U.S. Democrat opposes Biden budget pick Tanden, risking confirmation and complicating agenda

Politics Feb 19, 2021 09:16PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Senate panel holds hearing on Biden budget nominee Neera Tanden

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Friday he opposes President Joe Biden's nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, imperiling her chances of getting the job and introducing a new obstacle for the Democrats' agenda.

Biden told reporters he did not intend to pull the nomination. "I think we're gonna find the votes to get her confirmed," Biden said.

Tanden has been criticized by Republicans - and some Democrats - over past harsh comments on social media, such as calling Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell "Moscow Mitch" and saying "vampires have more heart than (Senator) Ted Cruz."

Many Democrats scoffed at such concerns, noting near-unanimous Republican support for former President Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol partly via inflammatory comments on Twitter and was known for blasting opponents - particularly women - as "nasty" or criminals who should be locked up.

Manchin cited Tanden's "public statements and tweets" in his 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," he said.

His statement drew immediate condemnation, with some critics noting that the moderate Democrat - who represents the strongly Republican state of West Virginia - had backed some of Trump's controversial nominees, including Richard Grenell to be ambassador to Germany.

Democrats had questioned Grenell's appointment because of his past statements insulting to women politicians on the internet and during cable television appearances.

Manchin's opposition underscored the influence that the moderate Democrat has over the ability of Biden's Democrats to achieve the party's policy goals, given their narrow control of the House and Senate.

His statement came as congressional Democrats look to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill by the end of next week. Facing stiff Republican opposition, that measure could also hinge on Manchin.

If every Senate Democrat had supported Tanden, she could have been confirmed without Republican votes since Democrats control 50 seats in the chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.

However, Manchin's opposition means Tanden must be supported by a least one Republican.

Tanden, who is Indian-American, would be the first woman of color to serve as director of the OMB, which serves as gatekeeper for the $4 trillion federal budget.

Questioned at her confirmation hearings about her tweets, Tanden apologized and said she regretted their tone.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki praised Tanden as "an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director." She said the administration would keep working toward her confirmation by engaging with both parties.

If Tanden is not confirmed, it would be a setback in a presidential transition that was already delayed by Trump's refusal - backed by many of his fellow Republicans - to recognize Biden's victory in the November election even after repeated court decisions showed there had been no widespread fraud.

So far, the handful of Biden nominees to have come before the Senate, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have been confirmed by comfortable margins with bipartisan support.

Biden could also install Tanden as director of OMB by making her a recess appointment, a temporary measure that could her allow to run the office for nearly two years.

U.S. Democrat opposes Biden budget pick Tanden, risking confirmation and complicating agenda
 

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Comments (7)
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 21, 2021 4:29PM ET
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Democrats seem to be in a civil war within DNC. Progressives are going to hijack the old white establishment Democrats. The few moderate Democrats left with disperse. Then there are the far left communist within the Democrat party
Me comment
Me comment Feb 21, 2021 1:07PM ET
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McConnell and Cruz comment were spot on.
Red Riley
Red Riley Feb 20, 2021 1:26AM ET
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hypocrites
Green Mango
Green Mango Feb 20, 2021 12:54AM ET
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We can only hope that the Dems destroy each other.  Left vs. Far left, vs. oblivious vs. lunatics
OVER CULL
OVER CULL Feb 19, 2021 9:26PM ET
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She is a sick lunatic... doesn’t deserve the position, but than again, they’re all looney anyways...
Michael Angelo
Michael Angelo Feb 19, 2021 7:26PM ET
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I like it. We pass from a government of white minorities to a another of women (minority?).Doesn't matter the skill it's just power propaganda.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 19, 2021 5:52PM ET
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Senator Manchen is correct in His opposition. Ms. Tanden is not up to this.
 
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