Tanden seeks to defuse GOP tensions over tweets

Tanden seeks to defuse GOP tensions over tweets
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President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s budget office nominee Neera TandenNeera TandenThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Schumer back down on his deadline? Biden's budget vacancy raises eyebrows White House releases staff salaries showing narrowed gender pay gap MORE on Tuesday sought to defuse tensions over her political tweets, apologizing at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for her partisan jabs on social media.

“I regret that language and take responsibility for it,” Tanden, a frequent cable news guest over the past several years, said in a line she added to the prepared opening statement released to the media ahead of the hearing.

“Over the last few years, it’s been part of my role to be an impassioned advocate. I understand, though, that the role of OMB director calls for bipartisan action, as well as a nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence,” she said, referring to the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden’s nomination to lead OMB in the fall was greeted with guffaws by Republicans who had been targeted by her barbs for years. A longtime adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE and unpaid adviser during the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign, Tanden during the Trump presidency served as president of the Center for American Progress.

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On social media and on cable news, she had sharp words for Republican senators, and if the GOP still had the Senate majority, there would be serious doubts about her confirmation. The Democratic wins last month in two special elections, however, both gave Democrats the Senate majority and took some of the heat off Tanden’s confirmation fight.

The first face-to-face confirmation meeting between Tanden and a slate of GOP senators was nonetheless something to anticipate on Tuesday.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet On The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (Ohio), the panel's ranking Republican and himself a former OMB chief, went through a litany of Tanden's tweets that took aim at Republicans who will be asked to confirm her.

Tanden, he noted, had referred to Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol MORE (R-Maine) as “the worst,” said Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonChuck Todd is dead wrong: Liberal bias defines modern journalism Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis MORE (R-Ark.) was “a fraud,” proclaimed that “vampires have more heart” than Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate MORE (R). She also compared then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) to the villain in the “Harry Potter” series, Voldemort.

“I believe that the tone, the content and the aggressive partisanship of some of your public statements have added to the troubling trend of more incivility in our public life,” Portman said.

He also noted that even after Tanden deleted thousands of old tweets, his staff found nine pages worth of tweets among her remaining posts about Cruz.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordAbbott slams Ben & Jerry's for Palestine support: 'Disgraceful' Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Republican calls on Oklahoma to ban Ben & Jerry's MORE (R-Okla.) said her comments ran contrary to Biden’s calls for unity, noting that Biden promised to fire any members of his administration who treated others uncivilly “on the spot.”

“I recognize the concern. I deeply regret and apologize for my language," Tanden responded, adding that the onus was on her to earn the trust of GOP senators.

Despite the rhetoric, she said she had worked with right-leaning think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute in the past and could reach across the aisle.

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A number of Democrats and outside observes have said it is highly hypocritical for Republicans to criticize Tanden given former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE’s use of Twitter during his four years in office.

During that time, Trump called Biden “weak, both mentally and physically,” referred to Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Angst grips America's most liberal city Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (I-Vt.) as “crazy,” told several congresswomen of color to “go home” to foreign countries, and threatened war with Iran and North Korea on Twitter.

Trump’s harsh words were also directed at Republicans and members of his own staff. Trump in one of a number of tweets that targeted women referred to his former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Manigault NewmanJudge denies Omarosa Manigault Newman request to depose Trump, John Kelly in lawsuit Tanden seeks to defuse GOP tensions over tweets Juan Williams: The GOP's problem with women of color MORE as “a dog.”

Tanden denied that she deleted her old tweets at the behest of the incoming Biden administration, and said she had removed them over the course of several months because she regretted them.

Tanden also at times came under criticism from progressives close to Sanders, who blamed her for the progressive’s loss to Clinton in the 2016 primary. Sanders had criticized the Center for American Progress in a 2019 letter, accusing it of belittling progressive ideas.

The Biden White House sees Tanden’s background and experience as a huge strength for the incoming administration. Tanden is the daughter of an immigrant who has talked about how her family relied on food stamps and Section 8 housing.

During the hearing, Tanden defended Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal, which the administration has said will help working families like the one Tanden grew up in. She echoed Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenMissed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Fed chief holds firm amid inflation concerns The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE’s arguments that the danger of passing too small a fiscal stimulus was greater than passing one that overshot the mark, and that the nation’s fiscal situation would be worse off without a strong recovery.

“Economic recovery is our central obligation going forward, and truthfully, a strong economic recovery will help the financial picture of the United States and redress long-term sustainability issues,” she said.

She also said that overhauling federal information technology would be one of her top priorities, in order to boost cybersecurity and make the government more accessible to citizens.

“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “One of the differences between the United States and other countries is our government can be woefully inefficient and ineffective because we don’t really use technology effectively.”

The problem has taken a recent spotlight following a major government hack that Russia perpetrated by attacking government software suppliers including Microsoft, SolarWinds and VMware. Aging IT systems have also been a notable road block for state-level unemployment systems dealing with record levels of claims during the pandemic.

Beyond the hot political issues, Tanden addressed governance questions covering immigration, permitting, federal hiring, nuclear waste containment in Nevada’s Yucca Mountains, and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals in Michigan's drinking water.

Tanden is scheduled to testify in an additional nomination hearing Wednesday before the Senate Budget Committee.