Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the White House budget office, casting serious doubt on her ability to get confirmed and making her President Joe Biden’s first pick who could fall short in the Senate.
Manchin’s opposition presents a major problem for Tanden, given that Democrats only hold a 50-seat majority in the Senate. Without Manchin’s vote, Tanden likely would need at least one Senate Republican to back her in order to win approval to lead Biden’s Office of Management and Budget.
In a statement, Manchin said that he had reviewed Tanden’s previous tweets criticizing his colleagues, including Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Manchin said. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination. As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics.”
Earlier this month, Tanden took heat from both sides of the aisle during two confirmation hearings, in which Republicans and Sanders both excoriated her social media history, criticizing her for past remarks about both Republicans and progressives as the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.
“Your attacks were not just made against Republicans,” Sanders said during her appearance before the Senate Budget Committee. “There were vicious attacks against progressives, people who I have worked with — me personally.”
OMB is a critical agency for any president, charged with carrying out an administration’s fiscal and regulatory agenda, and its directorship is a Cabinet-level post. For Biden, the agency will be at the heart of his administration’s response to the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.
The Biden transition effort did not immediately return a request for comment on Manchin’s opposition to Tanden.
Manchin hinted at some dissatisfaction with the White House last month after Vice President Kamala Harris appeared on TV in his home state to pitch the Biden administration’s Covid relief plan.
"I couldn’t believe it," Manchin told the same local station that Harris gave her interview to. "No one called me."
Tyler Pager contributed reporting.