Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had been scheduled to take up Tanden’s nomination to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but the meeting was postponed, according to the committee website. The Senate Budget Committee also postponed a scheduled business meeting to vote on Tanden’s nomination, according to a committee aide.
The White House early Wednesday morning reiterated its support for Tanden, but the nominee does not appear to have 50 votes in the Senate after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) last week said he would vote against her.
Several centrist GOP senators have also come out in opposition, and it is unclear whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, will support her confirmation.
“Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis,” White House press secretary Jenn Psaki tweeted Wednesday morning.
“She also has important perspective and values, understanding firsthand the powerful difference policy can make in the lives of those going through hard times,” Psaki continued. “She has a broad spectrum of support, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to labor unions, and has a strong record of working with both parties that we expect to grow in President Biden’s cabinet as the first South Asian woman to lead OMB.”
Asked at a briefing Wednesday afternoon if she believed the delay in the meetings represents a setback, Psaki answered: “I wouldn’t put it in those terms. I think we are committed to continuing to fight for all our nominees.”
Despite her statements, reports have also emerged that the White House is considering backup nominees if Tanden’s nomination is withdrawn.
Tanden has come under fire from Republicans because of harsh tweets she previously sent, including some about GOP senators who now have a vote on her confirmation. Some progressives have also been unhappy with Biden’s choice of Tanden.
Democrats backing her nomination have argued that it is hypocritical for Republicans to oppose Tanden over her tweets after former President Trump‘s insults on Twitter.
Manchin’s decision to oppose Tanden’s nomination has led to questions about whether other moderate Democrats, like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), could also do the same. Sinema is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The Senate is divided 50-50, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote, meaning that Biden needs at least one Republican to vote in favor of Tanden’s nomination, given Manchin’s opposition. More GOP senators would need to join Democrats in voting to support her if more Democrats come out against her.
Both the Budget and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees held hearings on Tanden’s nomination earlier this month, during which she apologized for her tweets. The committees will each need to vote to advance her nomination in order for it to come to the Senate floor for a full vote.
Publicly, the White House has backed Tanden as her confirmation has come into doubt. White House officials made calls to Senate offices over the weekend, and Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that Tanden has held 44 meetings with senators of both parties. Psaki also insisted that Tanden was Biden’s only choice to lead OMB.
Updated at 1:05 p.m.