Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that she hasn’t made a decision on Neera Tanden’s nomination, leaving President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stuck in limbo. 

“I saw that they pulled her from committee today, so it looks like I’ve got more time to be thinking about things,” Murkowski said, referring to the decision by the Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees to delay votes on her nomination. 

Murkowski’s decision on Tanden is viewed as crucial in the White House’s uphill bid to salvage her nomination. 

Because Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said he will oppose her, the White House needs to hold together the rest of the Democratic caucus and pick up at least one GOP senator. 

Murkowski is viewed as the final up-for-grabs GOP vote, after Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mitt Romney (Utah) and Rob Portman (Ohio) all came out in opposition to her nomination. 

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) also hasn’t said if she’ll support Tanden. Opposition from either Sinema or Murkowski would be the formal death knell for Biden’s pick, marking the first nomination that he would need to pull since taking office last month. 

Murkowski said that she’s been in touch with the White House, which has offered to make Tanden “available for my questions.” That meeting, she said, had not yet happened. 

“I’ve talked to the White House about it,” she said. 

Asked what the message was from the White House about why she should support Tanden, Murkowski summed it up as: “The president nominated her.” 

The White House has stood behind Tanden’s nomination, even as it’s faced a string of setbacks this week.  

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said that Democrats were working to try to find the votes to get her confirmed. 

“We’re doing a kind of a full-scale effort, including the White House and members to find support,” Durbin said. 

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) added that it was “no great secret” that Tanden didn’t currently have the votes to be confirmed but didn’t rule out that she could find them. 

Tanden has come under widespread scrutiny from Republicans because of her previous tweets criticizing several senators including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Murkowski. 

Murkowski appeared unaware that she had been the target of one of Tanden’s tweets, who wrote in 2017 that Murkowski sounded “high on your own supply” about the GOP tax bill.

“I didn’t know, I was telling everybody, I didn’t realize,” Murkowski said. She then paused to read the tweet on a reporter’s phone before adding, “high on my own supply, that’s interesting. Should I ask her? My own supply of what?”

“See that goes to show how much homework I still have to do on her if I didn’t even know that she had sent out a tweet about me,” Murkowki said.  

Tags Bernie Sanders Dick Durbin Joe Biden Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Neera Tanden Rob Portman Susan Collins

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