President Biden often professes a belief in salvation. Republicans, whose party symbolizes an elephant, have long memories. When it comes to Neera Tanden, who was nominated by Biden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, something has to give in to that tug of war.
It didn't take long for the opposition party to uncover evidence that Tanden, a fiercely partisan employee of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party, had repeatedly failed to meet the new president's standard for unity and decency in government. Using Twitter as her platform, she described Maine Senator Susan Collins as "the worst," Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as a "fraud," and said vampires have more heart than Senator Ted Cruz. She linked Bernie Sanders to Russia, calling Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell "Moscow Mitch". She also compared him to & # 39; Voldemort & # 39 ;.
Tanden has since said she's sorry, including a specific apology for that comparison of the current minority leader to the evil undead wizard. But Senator Joe Manchin is not satisfied. The West Virginia voting Democrat announced on Friday that he would oppose her nomination. "I believe her openly biased statements will have a poisonous and damaging impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget," Manchin said in a written statement.
This makes Manchin the first Democrat to oppose one of Biden & # 39; s cabinet nominees. It also indicates that White House officials cannot automatically count on their nominees to pass a 50-50 Senate, even if Vice President Kamala Harris is able to cast a tie-breaking vote. If the Teeth nomination is troubled some whispered over the weekend, what about the president's other controversial choices like Xavier Becerra to lead Health and Human Services?
Teeth's chances were further dented on Monday when Collins, considering a possible Republican vote for confirmation, announced her opposition. "Congress must be able to rely on the OMB director to make countless decisions impartially, carry out the letter of the law and the intent of the Congress. Collins said in a statement. "Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of hostility President Biden has promised to transcend."
Still, Biden was optimistic when asked about his endangered and previously rude OMB director, who told reporters on Friday, "I think we'll find the votes to get her confirmed."
On Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki doubled White House support, tweeting: “Neera Tanden = seasoned policy expert, said to be the first Asian-American woman to lead OMB, gained experience benefiting from a number of federal programs as a child, looks ahead to committee votes this week and continues to work on her confirmation "
Over the weekend, a source within the affirmation effort told RealClearPolitics that Biden thinks Tanden “would be an incredibly successful budget director who would help transform our economy in this time of crisis. And judging by its strong support ranging from the corporate sector to the labor movement, he is not alone at all. "
Tanden has had more than 35 meetings with senators from both parties. She will also meet with Sanders, who now chairs the Senate Budgets Committee, who is expected to vote on her nomination this week. The Biden team has highlighted support for Teeth from across the ideological spectrum.
Mark Holden, formerly the general counsel of the libertarian Koch Industries, sent a letter of support to the chairpersons of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.
"Ms. Teeth and I disagree on many issues. But even when we disagreed, I found she was a person of principle who would listen respectfully and respond thoughtfully," he wrote in a statement. Letter There were also other letters, from the US Chamber of Commerce, the Communications Workers of America, and one signed by more than 100 public health experts, all of whom supported her nomination.
They were addressed to the relevant committee chairmen, in particular sens. Gary Peters and Sanders – the kind of public correspondence meant to put pressure on them, as is normal on Capitol Hill. But the Biden team has something else at work: Outside of Republicans, publicly advocate forgiveness of Teeth.
For example, they may point to support from Bill Kristol, the editor-in-chief of the conservative Bulwark magazine, who wrote that Tanden & # 39; the right person for the job & # 39; was – despite its history of unkind words – because everyone & # 39; should want a stubborn OMB head & # 39 ;.
Kristol's vociferous and incessant opposition to the previous Republican president does not make him the best advocate on behalf of Tanden. But former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who served as OMB director under George W. Bush, remains popular among conservatives, giving extra weight to his support for Tanden's appointment
Now, the president of Purdue University, Daniels wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post noting that Republicans certainly have "legitimate grievances" after Senate Democrats forced more than 300 cloture votes to obstruct nominees for Trump. He also wrote that Tanden "tweeted or otherwise broadcast some unkind, personal nastygrams aimed at some of those now considering her nomination."
His assessment? "Shame on her." But his bigger conclusion, one in line with Biden & # 39; s crusade for a return to decency, was that “in the recent poisonous wasteland of national affairs, if we disqualify anyone who has ever unleashed a smarmy or youthful cheap shot, we will be very few people would have left in Washington. "
Daniels isn't naive about how D.C. works. Nicknamed “Mitch the Knife” while OMB was director, he recounted some of his own personal battles with Teeth when she led the liberal Center for American Progress. Once, he writes, her organization kicked him out of a panel because of his previous disagreements with her over policy.
But that is a thing of the past, Daniels wrote. The future may be more twofold: "Teeth's affirmation, in particular, would demonstrate a willingness, not often seen in recent days, to overlook the personal and the small, respect the biblical command and & # 39; to return evil for evil to no one & # 39 ;. I suppose senators, as they often claim, are troubled by the harshness and harshness of our current political discourse. So here's an opportunity to demonstrate it, along with a certain magnanimity. "
Daniels & # 39; s own magnanimous overture over the weekend gave some hope to some of Biden & # 39; s lieutenants, who spread his words to interested parties. They know that the battle for the previously ill-tempered candidate could be symbolic of things to come. Of course, their preference would be for the Senate to accept Teeth's apology and move on. But that is now up to the people who insulted Neera Tanden.
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