Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head

Greg Nash

Top Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are publicly and privately lobbying President Biden to nominate Capitol Hill veteran Shalanda Young as White House budget director with the nomination of his original pick, Neera Tanden, on the brink of collapse.

Young, who already is Biden’s nominee to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), served for the past 14 years as a staffer on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, most recently in the top job of staff director.

The new chair of the CBC, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), has already thrown her support behind Young, who is Black, should Tanden’s nomination be withdrawn.

And the CBC is preparing to send a letter to Biden endorsing Young for the job once that happens, sources said. People who work closely with her on the Appropriations panel describe her as a beloved staffer. 

Young “would be more than qualified. She brings with her a wealth of information about the process. She also knows about the agencies and the issues,” Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign and part of the team that led his search for a vice presidential running mate, told The Hill.  

“I’ve seen how she’s interacted with people as well. I was the secretary of labor in Delaware and head of personnel, and I know it takes a people person to be able to do a job like that and to do it well. I think she’d be awesome.”

“I think she’s great,” added Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who is poised to become Biden’s Housing and Urban Development secretary.

Young “certainly has my support,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a former Black Caucus chairman, told The Hill. “Everyone I’ve talked to says she is just a phenomenal appropriator; she understands the appropriations process. She has the support of both sides of the aisle.” 

Indeed, unlike Tanden, Young would likely win significant support from Republicans and cruise to confirmation as OMB director. Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the immediate past chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who is now the panel’s top Republican, said Wednesday he would support Young if Biden nominated her for the top job, saying she is an “honest broker” who is well-versed in the often arcane budget process.

“She would have my support, and I suspect many of my Republican colleagues would support her, as well,” Shelby said. 

A leading progressive in Washington and the daughter of Indian immigrants, Tanden’s quest to be OMB director appeared to be over Wednesday after two Senate committees scrapped votes that would have sent her nomination to the floor of the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. Her chances of being confirmed took a nosedive a week ago when centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he could not support her because of her past tweets attacking senators.  

And despite Biden’s efforts, no GOP senator has said they are prepared to cross the aisle to confirm Tanden given her disparaging tweets

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said on MSNBC Wednesday that they are “fighting our guts out to get her confirmed” but acknowledged that if they fail, Biden will name her to a key post in the White House that does not require Senate confirmation.

Not all CBC members are ready to throw in the towel on Tanden just yet. 

“We need to do everything we can to ensure Neera is confirmed. I want to see Neera confirmed,” immediate past CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.), a Biden ally, told The Hill. “For my Republican colleagues to be upset about tweets — and I understand some of the tweets are directed at them — but we went through four years of tweets from the president calling people all sorts of egregious things. So I don’t think that should sink her confirmation.”

“I think Shalanda is wonderful. She has done a terrific job on Appropriations,” Bass added. “But we need to see what’s going to happen with Neera.” 

Marty Johnson contributed.

Tags G.K. Butterfield Joe Biden Joe Manchin Joyce Beatty Karen Bass Marcia Fudge Neera Tanden Office of Management and Budget OMB Richard Shelby Ron Klain Shalanda Young
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