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Neera Tanden was ‘proud to fight’ against Trump cabinet picks, now she’s battling to save her own nomination

Chuck Ross, DCNF

  • Neera Tanden’s nomination to serve as White House budget director is in jeopardy after Sen. Joe Manchin came out against her confirmation. 
  • Opposition to Senate-confirmed positions is nothing new for Tanden, who said in early 2017 that she was “fighting hard” against Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Education. 
  • Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, also said that she was “proud to fight” against Jeff Sessions for attorney general. 

Neera Tanden, the Biden nominee for White House budget director, said in early 2017 she was “proud to fight” against Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, and that her organization, the Center for American Progress, was “fighting hard” to block Trump’s nominee for secretary of education.

Now, Tanden is at the center of a different fight: salvaging her nomination as director of the Office of Management and Budget, a Cabinet-level position that requires Senate confirmation.

Tanden’s confirmation is in limbo after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, said Friday that he will vote against Tanden due to her “overtly political statements” about Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. 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,” said Manchin, a moderate Democrat.

Tanden, a former Bill Clinton White House aide who is president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), has come under scrutiny because of her bombastic tweets criticizing Republicans. She also was highly critical of Sanders during his 2016 presidential bid, blaming him and his supporters for undermining Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Republicans and some progressive Democrats have also questioned millions of dollars in corporate and foreign government donations given to CAP during Tanden’s tenure. Tanden also pushed the now-debunked allegation that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

During her confirmation hearing on Feb. 9, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley quizzed Tanden over funding CAP accepted from Big Tech companies and the United Arab Emirates.

Tanden apologized for her politically-tinged tweets during the confirmation hearing and denied that CAP’s funders had any influence on the think tank’s mission.

President Joe Biden said Friday he has no intention of pulling Tanden’s nomination and expressed confidence that she will be confirmed to the post.

“I think that we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed,” he told reporters on Friday.

Tanden will need all remaining Democrats, at least one Republican, and Sanders, an Independent, to vote for her confirmation if she is to take office.

Sanders, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has not said whether he will vote to confirm Tanden. He dodged a question in an interview on CNN on Friday about whether he supports her confirmation.

Many of Tanden’s supporters blasted Manchin and Republicans following his statement, with some complaining that she was the victim of sexism.

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who was highly critical of Trump, said on Saturday that Tanden should be confirmed. He warned Republicans that they one day will be back in power and want to confirm Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominees.

But at CAP, Tanden mounted lobbying campaigns to block Trump’s cabinet picks from being confirmed.

She tweeted on Feb. 8, 2017, that CAP was “proud to fight” against Jeff Sessions, who Trump picked for attorney general.

On Jan. 18, 2017, Tanden wrote that CAP was “fighting hard against” DeVos, who would lead the Department of Education.

CAP signed a letter to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with 37 other progressive groups expressing “strong concerns” with DeVos’s nomination.

On Jan. 6, 2017, CAP published a column from one of its senior fellows opposing Tillerson’s nomination to lead the State Department.

“The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility,” wrote Cathleen Kelly, a CAP senior fellow.

“President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications.”

On Jan. 18, 2017, CAP fellow Colin McArthur called for an investigation into whether Steven Mnuchin committed “any illegalities” when he ran OneWest Bank.

Tanden and CAP’s efforts were futile as all of the Trump nominees were confirmed.

CAP did not respond to a request for comment.

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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