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World

US moderates reject Biden budget pick Tanden over 'mean tweets,' risking confirmation

  • 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.
  • The confirmation fight underscored the influence a small group of moderates will have as Biden seeks to achieve his policy goals in the narrowly divided Congress.
Updated 22 Feb 2021

WASHINGTON: Moderate Republican US Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney came out on Monday against President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, over her past harsh statements on social media, lowering her chance of confirmation as the first non-white woman in the position.

With the Senate divided 50-50 between the Republican and Democratic caucuses, Tanden will need the support of at least one Republican to win confirmation in the Senate. A moderate Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin, announced on Friday he would not vote for her.

Collins and Romney had both been seen as potential Republican supporters.

"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 said in a statement. "The OMB needs steady, experienced, responsive leadership. I will vote against confirming Ms Tanden."

A spokeswoman for Romney said he was also a No. "He believes it's hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets," she said.

Biden, a Democrat, still supports the nominee. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Twitter that the administration was "looking ahead to the committee votes this week and continuing to work toward her confirmation."

The confirmation fight underscored the influence a small group of moderates will have as Biden seeks to achieve his policy goals in the narrowly divided Congress.

Tanden's supporters have scoffed at concerns about her comments from her opponents, noting near-unanimous Republican support for former President Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting a deadly attack on the US Capitol, partly via inflammatory comments on Twitter. He also was known for blasting opponents - particularly women - as "nasty" or criminals who should be locked up.

An Indian-American who would be the first woman of color to lead the agency, Tanden apologized to senators at her confirmation hearings.

The OMB serves as the gatekeeper for the $4 trillion federal budget.