Democratic senator opposes Biden budget pick, confirmation in doubt

Politics

FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2021, file photo Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin announced on Friday that he would oppose President Joe Biden’s nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, which could sink the nomination.

Tanden has been criticized by Republicans over her past harsh comments on social media, such as calling Mitch McConnell, the party’s leader in the Senate, “Moscow Mitch” and saying “vampires have more heart than (Senator) Ted Cruz.”

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 10: Neera Tanden, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee on February 10, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Tanden helped found the Center for American Progress, a policy research and advocacy organization and has held senior advisory positions in Democratic politics since the Clinton administration. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

Many Democrats scoffed at such concerns, noting near-unanimous Republican support for former President Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol partly via inflammatory comments on Twitter and was known for blasting those he saw as opponents – particularly women – as “nasty” or criminals who should be locked up.

Manchin cited Tanden’s “public statements and tweets” in his statement. “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,” he said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in response to Manchin’s announcement, “Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties.”

President Biden echoed Psaki’s statement in his own conversation with reporters and added the White House will not pull her nomination.

If every Senate Democrat supported Tanden, she could have been confirmed without Republican votes since Democrats control 50 seats in the chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.

However, Manchin’s opposition means Tanden must be supported by a least one Republican to be confirmed.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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