- Susan Collins and Mitt Romney’s decision follows that of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to vote against President Biden’s nominee for the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah have announced their opposition to Neera Tanden, further putting in peril the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominee for the director of the Office of Management and Budget. This development comes on the heels of Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin’s decision to not support Tanden’s nomination due to her previous tweets criticizing his colleagues, including Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Without support from Manchin in an evenly divided Senate, Tanden needs backing from at least one Republican. However, lack of support from both Collins and Romney could possibly make Tanden Biden’s first nominee to fail confirmation.
Announcing her decision to vote against Tanden, Collins, in a Feb. 22 statement, noted that the director of OMB “is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the federal budget and plays a significant role in any Administration’s fiscal and regulatory agenda.” She added that Tanden “has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency.”
The Maine senator said Tanden’s “past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend,” adding that her decision to delete tweets before her nomination “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.”
Romney has not issued a statement yet, but a source close to Romney told Politico that said the Utah Republican “has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees” and “believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.”
Tanden, a long-time friend and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is one of the most influential Indian American politicos in Washington, D.C. Till recently, she headed the Center for American Progress, and has previously served in both the Obama and Bill Clinton administrations, as well as on Democratic presidential campaigns. She was one of the principles who drafted the Affordable Care Bill under the Obama administration.
Prior to her nomination, Tanden tweeted that Collins was “the worst.”
In previous tweets, she called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “Voldemort” and criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Budget Committee. In one tweet, Tanden said “Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal emails did to help Hillary,” referring to Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
Last November, one of Tanden’s tweet congratulating Biden and Harris for their win, was flagged for with a disputed content warning. She deleted the tweet shortly afterward. “And the monster is defeated,” Tanden’s tweet said. The now deleted tweet read: “Biden is already at 270 and his [electoral college] margin will likely grow with [Pennsylvania], and maybe even Georgia. The mission was to defeat the monster. And the monster is defeated.”
Politico says “Biden could theoretically use a recess appointment to make Tanden the head of OMB. But that could bring procedural hurdles given Democrats’ narrow Senate majority. It could, however, be the only option. Finding Republican support for Tanden might prove a heavy lift, especially now that she doesn’t have full support from Senate Democrats.”
However, President Biden has said he will go ahead with the nomination. “I think we’re gonna find the votes to get her confirmed,” news reports quoted him as saying.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a Feb. 22 tweet called Tanden an “accomplished policy expert” and would be the first Asian-American woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget. “Neera Tanden=accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefited from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation,” she wrote.
The Senate Homeland Security and Budget committees are expected to vote on her nomination this week.
Last week, after Manchin’s announcement, many fellow progressives took to twitter to support Tanden and call out the West Virginia senator for his hypocrisy.
Earlier this month, during her Senate nomination hearing, Tanden faced tough questions from members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Senate Budget Committee, including its chair, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with whom she has clashed in the past. Tanden apologized for her past tweets criticizing some Republican lawmakers, and promised to work in a bipartisan manner if confirmed.