Manchin to oppose Biden’s pick of Neera Tanden

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Friday that he would oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to head the White House budget office, potentially sinking her Senate confirmation.

Manchin cited Tanden’s harsh tweets about Republicans as the reason for his opposition.

“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,” Manchin said in a statement. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination.”

Most Republicans were already expected to oppose Tanden over her rhetoric, and it may be difficult for a GOP senator to back her now that Biden will need at least one Republican to back her to get her confirmed. 

The Senate is divided 50-50 between the parties, with Vice President Harris breaking tie votes. But Democrats would only have 49 votes for Tanden if all Republican senators and Manchin oppose her.

Tanden, a former staffer to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), built a reputation for partisan warfare on Twitter as the head of the Center for American Progress.

Republicans in two confirmation hearings last week skewered Tanden for her previous tweets, many of which she recently deleted.

She has repeatedly apologized for the tweets, some of which compared Republicans to evil fictional characters. 

“I regret that language and take responsibility for it,” she said at one of the committee hearings, promising to take a different tone as budget chief.

In her tweets, Tanden compared Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) to Voldemort, said that vampires had more heart than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), called Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) “the worst,” and referred to then-Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) as “criminally ignorant.”

Tanden’s defenders accused Republicans complaining about rhetoric on Twitter of hypocrisy, citing former President Trump’s incendiary comments on the social networking site before his account was suspended.

Trump referred to various critics as “crazy,” “corrupt,” “little,” and “low-IQ,” among other rude nicknames and insults.

“Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement distributed to reporters in response to Manchin’s remarks.

Republicans have noted that Tanden’s targets were not limited to Republicans and that she also went after some progressives, particularly Clinton’s 2016 presidential primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Sanders, now chair of the Senate Budget Committee, chaired one of the confirmation hearings, and asked Tanden to reflect on comments he called “vicious.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) took it a step further, saying she’d called Sanders “everything but an ignorant slut,” a reference to a 1970s “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

In a CNN interview Friday afternoon, Sanders was non-committal about supporting Tanden’s nomination, saying that he would speak to her next week about “what she wants to do.” Sanders reiterated that he was less concerned with her previous rhetoric than her future actions.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. Brett Samuels contributed.

Tags Bernie Sanders Biden transition Budget Confirmation battles Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jeff Flake Jen Psaki Joe Manchin John Kennedy Neera Tanden Susan Collins Ted Cruz Twitter
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