- Joe Biden announced six top economic job picks on Monday, but he may set off his first confirmation fight by nominating Neera Tanden as head of the Office of Management and Budget.
- Tanden was a key Clinton ally during her 2016 presidential run and sparred with Republicans during the Trump presidency.
- Several Republicans suggested she would face GOP resistance in the Senate during the confirmation process.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President-elect Joe Biden announced half a dozen picks for top economic jobs in his administration on Monday. Collectively, they signalled a willingness to put a more diverse team in charge of confronting the enormous challenge of rebuilding the economy after the pandemic.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.
Yet one of Biden’s choices immediately ignited criticism from some on the left and many Republicans: Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, the agency charged with designing and carrying out the annual spending plan.
The position requires Senate confirmation â€” and the nomination may set off his first fight in a closely divided chamber that is likely to remain in Republican hands after a pair of Georgia runoffs on January 5.
Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, tweeted on Sunday that Tanden was “a sacrifice to the confirmation gods,” a suggestion that Republican fury at Biden’s electoral victory could be dampened with the GOP blocking her nomination.
Drew Brandewie, spokesperson for Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, also tweeted Tanden “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
Some progressives lambasted the pick. “Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden,” Briana Joy Grey, former press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign, said on Twitter.
Other Democrats, though, praised her. Stacey Abrams, a voting rights advocate in Georgia and influential progressive, said she was “very proud” of her friend on Twitter. That was echoed by Rep. Barbara Lee, another progressive in the House, who said Tanden was “a great choice.”
Tanden said she was “beyond honoured” to be nominated to lead the OMB on Monday afternoon.
“After my parents were divorced when I was young, my mother relied on public food and housing programs to get by,” she said on Twitter. “Now, I’m being nominated to help ensure those programs are secure, and ensure families like mine can live with dignity.”
Should she be confirmed, Tanden would be the first woman of colour as well as the first South Asian American to lead the agency. The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to its spending role, the OMB helps set regulatory and fiscal policy for agencies in the executive branch. Its workforce is largely made up of career civil servants that presidents of both parties rely on for their vast knowledge of federal agencies.
Tanden helped muscle through the Affordable Care Act under President Barack Obama, and became president of the Centre for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, in 2011. She has faced some questions over her management of the organisation in recent years.
She was later a top lieutenant for Hillary Clinton and advised her 2016 presidential campaign, regularly clashing with Republicans. Since then, Tanden has been a fierce critic of President Donald Trump and maintained a combative presence on Twitter.
Three moderate Republican senators â€” Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine â€” have all signalled they would back Biden’s nominees as long as they are centrist. It’s unclear so far how they would vote on Tanden, but the senators could decide whether her confirmation is successful.
If Democrats win both races in Georgia, the party would hold a threadbare majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote on much of Biden’s economic agenda â€” including Tanden’s nomination.
Other picks that Biden formally announced for high-profile economic roles are Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary; Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors; and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as CEA members. All are widely considered to be less contentious.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.