Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House'

White House Chief of Staff Ron KlainRon KlainNew variant raises questions about air travel mandates White House scrambles for safety on holiday parties The massive messaging miscues of all the president's men (and women) MORE said he “respects” Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE’s (D-W.Va.) right to oppose the nomination of Neera TandenNeera TandenBiden should seek some ideological diversity Conservatives target Biden pick for New York district court GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE to lead the Office of Management and Budget amid increasing signs she won’t be confirmed in the Senate. 

Manchin, as well as a number of centrist Republicans, have come out against Tanden’s nomination over past tweets offering fiery criticism of senators on both sides of the aisle, saying confirming her would diminish President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE’s calls for bipartisanship and civility.

“He is a senator who does believe we need to have more civility, more cooperation between the parties, that’s his objection to Neera Tanden. I obviously disagree with him, I think Neera would actually add to that dialogue in Washington, I actually think she’d do a good job. Notwithstanding the tweets, her history of her work shows that,” Klain said on MSNBC.

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“But look, Sen. Manchin, he doesn’t answer to us at the White House. He answers to the people of West Virginia. He believes this is the right vote for him,” he added. “I respect Joe Manchin’s right to cast these votes. He’s an independent-minded senator, that’s what he’s going to do. We at the White House, we’re going to make our case to him and all the other Democrats and Republicans in the Senate on these key votes.” 

The tepid praise for Manchin comes after the West Virginia Democrat, who’s long cultivated a reputation for having an independent streak, said he would oppose Tanden’s nomination. A number of other Republican swing votes soon followed.

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While the White House disagrees with Manchin over his vote on Tanden, Klain noted that it still needs to maintain a positive relationship with the senator to help advance its other priorities, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour that Manchin opposes.

“We obviously disagree, but we’ve been fortunate to have his support on other nominations obviously, we’re obviously working hard to get his support for the American Rescue Plan,” Klain said.

In a 50-50 Senate, Tanden now needs at least one Republican to vote to confirm her, an increasingly tough ask as centrist Republicans say she’s lost their support.

In some of the past tweets that have drawn rebukes, Tanden compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (R-Ky.) to Voldemort. In another, she said that vampires had more heart than Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas). She has called Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Real relief from high gas prices The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron MORE (R-Maine) "the worst" and referred to then-Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (R-Ariz.) as "criminally ignorant."

Tanden has recently apologized for the tweets.

The White House has thus far stuck by Tanden, dismissing speculation Wednesday that it was considering backup options should her nomination fail.

“Well, there's one nominee to lead the budget department; her name is Neera Tanden, and that's who we're continuing to fight for,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Joe Biden: The Brian Williams presidency Biden plan for free at-home tests faces hurdles MORE said Wednesday.