President Joe Biden said that they are not going to pull Neera Tanden's nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget, but they are going to press on despite opposition from key senators.
"We’re going to push," Biden told reporters on Tuesday after a roundtable discussion with Black essential workers. "We still think there’s a shot, a good shot”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated their support for Tanden's nomination earlier Tuesday: "There is one candidate to lead the budget department. Her name is Neera Tanden."
The news comes after GOP Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), as well as centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who said they will not vote to support Tanden, leaving her confirmation in an extremely precarious position.
Sen. Manchin cited her history of posting divisive content about sitting lawmakers on social media.
Tanden, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and the president of the center-left public policy research and advocacy group Center for American Progress, issued an apology during her confirmation hearings in early February for spending years attacking top Republicans on social media as she tried to convince senators she’ll leave partisan politics behind if confirmed.
But Tanden did not limit her social media ire to Republicans alone — she had also tweeted criticism of then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during her time on Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
It was this history that Manchin said disqualified Tanden from the top position at OMB, expressing concern that she would be able to work with lawmakers on either side of the aisle.
"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,” Sen. Manchin wrote in a 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.”
Collins joined in the criticism in a statement first obtained by Politico: "Neera Tanden has 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."
"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," Collins wrote. "Congress has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent."
Collins also said that Tanden's "decision to delete more than a thousand tweets in the days before her nomination was announced raises concerns about her commitment to transparency."
A spokesperson for Romney said that he is a "No" on Tanden, adding that he "has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position. He believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets."
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted in support of Tanden following Collins' comments.
Psaki said that Tanden is an "accomplished policy expert, would be 1st Asian American woman to lead OMB, has lived experience having benefitted from a number of federal programs as a kid, looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation."
Speaking from New York City on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that he is "working with President Biden to find the extra votes so she can be passed. I think she'd be a very good OMB leader."
With a razor-thin 50-50 split in the Senate, Tanden will need support from at least one Republican in order for her nomination to be approved. That may be a tough sell, as GOP senators have signaled that the process may trigger a political battle given her history of criticism of GOP lawmakers she’d now have to work with.
The dimming prospects of Tanden’s confirmation did not deter President Biden from supporting his nominee. When asked by reporters Friday evening if he was considering pulling Tanden’s nomination, the president said he would not, telling pool reporters: “I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed.”
Psaki also offered a full-throated endorsement of Tanden on Friday evening, saying she 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."
Tanden would be the first woman of color to lead the OMB. Her nomination requires approval from the Senate, which has moved fairly quickly to pass many of Biden’s choices for powerful posts.
So far, Manchin is the only Democrat to voice his opposition to Tanden’s nomination. The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on her nomination next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.