WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s nomination of Indian-American Neera Tanden as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, one of the most influential positions in the administration, appears doomed after two moderate Republican Senators on whom Democrats had pinned hopes in the confirmation process gave her a thumbs down.
Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney both joined conservative Democrat Joe Manchin in shafting Tanden’s confirmation, making it virtually certain she will not get through a Senate divided 50-50. She will be the first Biden nominee to be rejected (and she will not be the last) and jockeying has already begin to replace her although the White House has not formally withdrawn her nomination.
The principal reason for spiking her nomination — her purported “mean tweets” — is inviting ridicule among many moderates and liberals who point to a Trump era of toxic social media posts, including by the former President himself, to allege double standards.
“After spending 4 years pretending they didn’t see ANY of trump’s inappropriate ‘mean tweets,’ their sudden, intimate knowledge of Neera Tanden’s tweets is breathtaking,” noted one pro-Tanden moderate. Another added: “Joe Manchin…is undecided on Deb Haaland’s nomination for Interior Secretary, and he opposes Neera Tanden for OMB. Coincidentally, in an astounding fluke of chromosomal genetics, both these nominees are women of color.”
Several leftist groups and labor unions wrote to the Senators that confirmation of Trump nominees “with far more questionable records clearly amounts to a racist, sexist double standard that does not serve the American people.
“Ms. Tanden has spent her entire career focused on advancing policies that advance gender equity, to expand opportunity for all Americans and promote our nation’s economic growth. She has focused extensively on policies to help rural communities which often are less likely to have access to the economic investments, infrastructure, and other supports critical to achieving and maintaining economic stability,” the letter said.
While many progressive Democrats have reservations about Tanden, she is a hero to large segments of the left because of the tough circumstances she grew up in and the empathy that they feel it brings to the table. Born in Bedford, Massachusetts, Tanden grew up with her divorced mother who was on welfare for nearly two years before obtaining a job as a travel agent. She is seen as a Clinton loyalist and acolyte and worked on Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration.
She has also been outspoken on social media, frequently twitting not just Republicans but members of her party (such as Bernie Sanders), a take-no-prisoners approach that Senators with long memories and thin skin are using to torpedo her nomination.
Manchin, a Democrat from Republican-voting West Virginia, is the prime wrecking ball, and a meeting he had with Tanden over the weekend did not appear to change his mind. He is also opposing Deb Haaland, who if confirmed, would become the first Native American to run the Department of the Interior, and the first Native American Cabinet secretary in US history.
Tanden, if confirmed, would be the first woman to head the OMB (Obama briefly had an unconfirmed acting director who was female), and the first Indian-American in a job that is equivalent to a finance minister.

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