White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that the Biden administration will “keep fighting” for Neera Tanden’s confirmation to lead the Office of Management and Budget despite her slim chances amid bipartisan resistance in the Senate.
“We remain committed to fighting our hearts out for Neera Tanden. We believe she is the right person, she’s qualified, she’s experienced to lead the budget department,” Psaki told Fox News’ Chris Wallace when asked when the Biden administration will pull the nomination. “So, we’re going to keep fighting for her. We knew that some of these fights would be difficult and this is certainly one of them, but she’s going to have a number of continued engagements this week and we are certainly hopeful we can get it across the finish line.”
Senior adviser to the President and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond insisted Sunday that “at the end of the day, we expect her to be the OMB Director.”
“Look, we’re still working. She’s very qualified for the job, no one’s questioning her qualifications,” Richmond told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi.
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Tanden to lead the OMB may remain in limbo until at least early this week. All eyes are on Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who will meet on Monday with Tanden, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Murkowski is seen as a potential swing vote who could save Tanden’s nomination, but the senator has not indicated how she would vote and colleagues say she is using the opportunity to press the Biden administration on Alaska-related issues important to her.
Tanden’s nomination has been in trouble since Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced his opposition, saying her “overtly partisan statements” against Republican senators and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaigns would “have a toxic and detrimental impact” on the relationship between Congress and OMB.
In a 50-50 Senate, any Democratic defection needs to be replaced by a Republican vote and none so far has emerged. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also not committed to voting for the nomination.
CNN previously reported that behind the scenes, the White House has privately begun considering alternative candidates but has publicly reiterated its support for Tanden. White House chief of staff Ron Klain has said that if Tanden is not confirmed, she would be appointed to another position that doesn’t require Senate consideration. Two Senate committee votes on Tanden’s nomination had been postponed last week.
Tanden has apologized and expressed regret over some of her tweets at her nomination hearings. At one, Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman read aloud Tanden’s insults of Republican senators.
“Just to mention a few of the thousands of negative public statements, you wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” said Portman. “You called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort. And on and on. I wonder specifically how do you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members of Congress you have attacked through your public statements?”
Tanden has served as CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. She previously worked as a senior adviser at the US Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, focusing on the Affordable Care Act, and as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.