Who is Neera Tanden, President Biden’s budget chief nominee?
Hillary Clinton's former staffer has been nominated to head the White House budget office but Democrat Senator Joe Manchin has announced that he will oppose her confirmation.
On 30 November 2020 President Joe Biden announced that he would nominate former staffer Neera Tanden to head his White House budget office, a key role as Biden looks to rebuild the pandemic-hit American economy.
Tanden is an extremely experienced political operator and fits the profile of Biden’s other highly qualified cabinet nominations to date. However some inflammatory remarks on social media in the past may prevent her from being confirmed by the Senate.
Tanden currently serves as president of the Center for American Progress, an organisation she has worked with in various capacities since 2003. She has worked on numerous Democratic presidential campaigns, including those of Michael Dukakis (1988), Bill Clinton (1992), and Barack Obama (2008)
She was also a senior staffer for Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and advised Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Manchin opposes Tanden’s cabinet nomination
On Friday Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia released a statement announcing that he will not support Tanden’s nomination for the White House budget office. Manchin’s vote could be vital for Tanden’s confirmation but he accused her of “toxic” posts on Twitter
"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," said the statement. "For this reason, I cannot support her nomination."
Manchin is considered to be the Democratic Senator closest ideologically to their counterparts in the Republican Party and so holds a crucial rule in such a finely balanced Senate.
A simple majority is needed to confirm Biden’s cabinet picks, which the Democrats have by the slimmest of margins. Each party has 50 seats in the 100-member Senate, but hold the majority by virtue of the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
However just one Democrat desertion, as Manchin appears set on doing, is enough to wipe out that advantage and looks to have scuppered Tanden’s hopes of being confirmed. Tanden has repeatedly apologised for the tweets, which compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Voldemort and called Senator Susan Collins "the worst," but it appears many in the Senate have not forgiven.
Biden looks to confirm cabinet picks in coming weeks
Despite having now been in the White House for a month, President Biden has so far managed to get just seven of his 23 cabinet picks confirmed by the Senate. When they were announced in late 2020, Biden’s nominees represented the most diverse cabinet of all time, but he has struggled to get them approved.
The busy Senate schedule has slowed things down with the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and ongoing discussion of his American Rescue Plan stimulus bill taking up much of the Upper House’s limited time.
So far, those to have been confirmed by the Senate are Denis McDonough (Secretary of Veterans Affairs), Pete Buttigieg (Secretary of Transportation), Alejandro Mayorkas (Secretary of Homeland Security), Antony Blinken (Secretary of State), Janet Yellen (Secretary of the Treasury), Lloyd Austin (Secretary of Defense) and Avril Haines (Director of National Intelligence).