The confirmation math just got even more complicated for President Biden’s pick to be his budget director. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) both said Monday that they will oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, citing her past behavior on social media.
Tanden’s ability to win confirmation by an evenly divided Senate was endangered last week when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he wouldn’t back her, meaning that she would need to win the support of at least one Republican senator. Collins and Romney, both GOP moderates, were seen as possible swing votes, and their comments Monday narrow Tanden’s path to confirmation even further.
“Congress has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent,” Collins said in a statement. “Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency. Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.”
Collins added that Tanden’s deletion of past tweets before her nomination was announced “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.”
A Romney spokeswoman also cited Tanden’s tweets in explaining the senator’s opposition to her nomination. "Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position. He believes it's hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets," Romney Press Secretary Arielle Mueller said in a statement, according to CNN.
The White House continues to defend Tanden, and Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the administration still sees a path to confirmation. Biden said last week that he won’t withdraw her nomination, but CNN reports that officials are discussing possible replacements:
“Names being discussed include Ann O'Leary, who resigned in December as chief of staff to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, former national economic adviser Gene Sperling and John Jones, the former chief of staff to Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver who has worked extensively with the Congressional Black Caucus.
“Another likely contender is Shalanda Young, whom Biden nominated to serve as deputy OMB director and has worked with the House Appropriations Committee.”