Yesterday, despite moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announcing he would not vote to confirm her, Joe Biden said that he won’t pull the nomination of Neera Tanden for head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Tanden has been a controversial choice for the position, given comments she’s made on Twitter about politicians she dislikes on both sides of the aisle. Tanden has called Senator Tom Cotton ‘a fraud’, Senator Susan Collins ‘the worst’, Senator Mitch McConnell ‘Moscow mitch’ and ‘Voldemort’ (a Harry Potter reference) and she has said that ‘vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz’.
Tanden’s attacks were not limited to conservatives; Senator Bernie Sanders said she had made ‘vicious attacks’ against himself and other progressives, one of which took place in 2016 when she wrote ‘Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal e-mails did to help Hillary’. In her confirmation hearings, Tanden seemed apologetic about the comments she had made, saying “I deeply regret and apologize for my language, and some of my past language.”
However, this did not eliminate concerns about her ability to lead the Office of Management and Budget, a bipartisan role. Whilst she said she would work ‘aggressively’ to earn the trust of Senators across the aisle, Senator Joe Manchin obviously wasn’t convinced.
He said in a statement that he has ‘carefully reviewed’ her ‘public statements and tweets’ about her political opponents, and that as a result of her ‘overly partisan statements’ he believes she would be a ‘toxic and detrimental’ influence on the OMB. ‘At a time of grave crisis, it is more important than ever that we chart a new bipartisan course that helps address the many serious challenges facing our nation,’ the statement concluded.
Manchin is often considered to be the most moderate Democrat in the Senate, and as such it is crucial that he votes with the Democratic caucus (composed of 48 Democrats and 2 independents) for the Democrats to pass legislation and confirm nominations. If Manchin does, VP Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote if necessary and tip the vote in favour of the Democrats. However, the VP can only vote if there is a 50-50 split, so if Manchin breaks from the Democrats, Harris will not be able to cast a tie-breaking vote unless a Republican votes with the Democrats. This means that, in essence, it is highly unlikely that Neera Tanden will be confirmed without the support of Senator Manchin.
Despite Manchin’s opposition to Tanden, President Biden still seemed hopeful, saying “I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed”. However, it seems unlikely that any Republicans will vote in favour of Tanden’s nomination, given that she called the Senator widely considered to be the most moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, ‘the worst’.
The White House issued a statement in support of Tanden. “Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” it said.