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Neera Tanden to keep reaching out to senators next week as confirmation in jeopardy


President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget Neera Tanden will carry on with her outreach to senators next week after her confirmation was jeopardized Friday when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin revealed he would vote against her.

So far, Tanden has met with 35 senators on both sides of the aisle, according to a source involved with the confirmation process. “That outreach, which began moments after she was named, is continuing into next week,” the source said.

The confirmation team has also been speaking with outside interest groups, including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations, the business community, women business leaders, and labor unions, to drum up support for her nomination, the source said.

Manchin announced Friday he will vote against Tanden, making her confirmation unlikely given Republican resistance to her nomination. The senator’s decision means that unless a Republican senator comes forward to support Tanden’s nomination, it’s unlikely that she will be confirmed for the job, making key GOP votes more important than ever.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has a narrow majority in a 50-50 Senate. Because Democrats control the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris can break ties, but without Manchin’s support, Democrats won’t have the votes on their own.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney’s office won’t say how he will vote on Tanden, and there was no immediate response from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is among the senators Tanden is expected to speak with next week.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer Friday evening, Sanders was non-committal about the nomination. “I worry less about what Ms. Tanden did in the past than what she’s going to do in the future,” he said. “I will be speaking to her early next week.”

CNN reported earlier this month that Tanden and Sanders had sat down for a lengthy one-on-one meeting in recent weeks, ahead of her confirmation hearings. One person briefed on the meeting told CNN that meeting was over an hour and no stone had been left unturned, describing it as an opportunity for the two to discuss years of public clashing and private interactions.

Biden has said he does not intend to pull Tanden’s nomination, saying, “I think we’re gonna find the votes to get her confirmed.”

And White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the nomination in a statement to CNN, saying that “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.”

An advocate for Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign, Tanden’s nomination angered not only conservatives, but also progressive Democrats, many of whom believed she’d played a role in bolstering Clinton’s nomination at the expense of Sanders.

Tanden, who has most recently served as the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, faced sharp questioning over her past comments critical of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during two Senate confirmation hearings last week. Sanders chided Tanden during a hearing before the Budget Committee, saying that some of her remarks amounted to “vicious attacks” against progressives.

Tanden acknowledged at the time that her statements on social media “caused hurt to people,” saying, “I apologize to people on either the left or right who are hurt by what I’ve said.”

Manchin focused on her previous comments in his own statement announcing his opposition. “As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics. At a time of grave crisis, it is more important than ever that we chart a new bipartisan course that helps address the many serious challenges facing our nation,” he said.

An aide to Manchin told CNN Friday that the senator gave Schumer a heads up that he was going to make the announcement that he wouldn’t support Tanden. Manchin voted to convict former President Donald Trump earlier this month and has so far voted for every other Biden nominee.

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