Two Senate committees abruptly postponed their planned votes Wednesday to advance the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget, signaling pessimism that she might gain support sufficient to be confirmed by an equally divided Senate.
The Budget Committee and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee have both postponed scheduled votes, according to three people familiar with the situation who insisted on anonymity to discuss the decisions.
Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, chairman of the Homeland Security committee, told reporters on Wednesday that “people need a little more time to assess it.”
He declined to give details, adding that “we are still having discussions with people.”
Ms Tanden’s nomination has been in jeopardy since Friday, when West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III announced he would not support her, citing concerns over public criticism she leveled at lawmakers in both left in Twitter messages before his selection.
White House officials remained adamant that Mr Biden planned to back Ms Tanden, even as moderate Republican senators whom Democrats had hoped would provide the votes necessary to confirm that she had announced her intention to step down. oppose it. With Manchin in the “no” column, at least one Republican would be needed to join all of the supporting Democrats.
The voting delays came as a surprise Wednesday morning, after Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who heads the budget committee, told reporters on Tuesday his committee was moving forward.
Bipartisan support is building for Shalanda Young, currently chosen by Mr Biden as deputy director of the agency, to take Ms Tanden’s place as the agency’s head candidate. She was the House Democrats’ personnel director on the appropriations committee, the first black woman to hold that position.
Ms Young, who enjoys strong support from House Democrats, helped resolve the compromise that ended the country’s longest government shutdown in 2019. She has also served as a senior negotiator for relief programs staff. coronaviruses approved by Congress in 2020, work that has earned him bipartisan respect. – and preemptive approval from Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama on Wednesday.
“She’s smart, she knows the process inside and out, and she’s an honest broker who has demonstrated her ability to work with both sides and get things done,” said Mr. Shelby, the top Republican on the Credit Committee. of the Senate, in a press release. . “She would have my support.”
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, reiterated Mr Biden’s support for Ms Tanden on Wednesday, rejecting any discussion of an alternative candidate.
“It’s a numbers game,” Ms. Psaki said during a White House briefing. “It’s about convincing a Republican to support his nomination.”
When asked if Ms Tanden had offered to withdraw from the exam, Ms Psaki replied, “This is not the stage we are in.”