Updated Feb 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House stands by imperiled Tanden nomination after Senate panel postpones hearing

Neera Tanden sits in front of a microphone

Neera Tanden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is postponing a confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday for Neera Tanden, Axios has learned, a potential death knell for President Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

The latest: Asked Wednesday afternoon whether Tanden has offered to withdraw her nomination, Psaki told reporters, "That’s not the stage we’re in." She noted that it's a "numbers game" and a "matter of getting one Republican" to support the nomination.

Why it matters: Tanden’s nomination was already in peril after several senators voiced their opposition. While the White House has continued to stand by her, the last-minute postponement is another indication of the tenuousness of her confirmation.

  • "We are postponing the business meeting because members are asking for more time to consider the nominee,” a committee aide said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The president deserves to have a team in place that he wants, and we’re going to work with our members to figure out the best path forward."
  • The meeting had been scheduled for 10 a.m. ET.
  • Axios reported on Monday that House Democrats were already planning for a replacement nominee. Psaki responded to that reporting during Wednesday's briefing, telling reporters: "There’s one nominee to lead the budget department, her name’s Neera Tanden."

Tanden has faced some questions from both parties about her qualifications, but the broadest criticism received was for past combative tweets.

  • Not only does she have a long history of attacking some of the Republican and Democratic senators called to vote upon her nomination, but her comments undercut Biden's campaign promise to seek unity and work in a bipartisan fashion.
  • Last week, a fellow Democrat — Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — said he would not vote to confirm her, and this week, three Republicans viewed as potential replacements in the 50-50 split Senate — Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah — also said they would vote no.
  • "Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend," Collins said in a statement.

The White House remains steadfast, despite the criticism and meeting postponement.

  • "Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during the this time of unprecedented crisis," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement to Axios.
  • Tanden, an ally of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, currently leads the Center for American Progress.
  • Other supporters have accused Tanden's opponents of hypocrisy, noting Manchin and many Republican senators voted to confirm nominees of President Trump who also had posted caustic tweets.

Be smart: Tanden has tried to make amends by deleting her tweets, apologizing for any offense and pledging to be an OMB director who works in a bipartisan fashion.

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