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Romney, Collins won't support Tanden for OMB director

Jennifer Shutt, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney announced Monday he’ll oppose President Joe Biden’s nominee for White House budget chief, narrowing Neera Tanden’s already imperiled path to confirmation.

Romney joins Maine Republican Susan Collins, who announced her opposition to Tanden earlier Monday morning, and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, who came out against Tanden on Friday.

“Senator Romney has been critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees, and this is consistent with that position,” Romney’s press secretary, Arielle Mueller, said in a statement. “He believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.”

Most of the Senate Republican Conference was expected to vote against Tanden given her years of sharp criticism on Twitter and her more progressive policy stances.

But the loss of two Republicans who’ve broken with their party previously — and at least one Democratic lawmaker — could force Biden to pull her nomination unless some other GOP savior emerges. With the Senate tied 50-50, the White House needs at least one Republican to back Tanden after Manchin came out against her.

Romney is actually one of the Republicans Tanden has said nice things about, praising him for his stances last year in favor of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, his criticism of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout as well as his condemnation of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.

“Thank you @MittRomney for putting the country and our democracy first,” Tanden tweeted on Nov. 19, 10 days before word of Biden’s plan to nominate her for OMB director emerged.

Collins is among the Republicans that Tanden has targeted in the past, calling her “the worst” due to her support for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his 2018 confirmation process.


Still, Collins has been willing to cross the aisle on occasion and became one of six Republicans, along with Romney, to vote in favor of Biden’s Homeland Security secretary nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas.

Collins dashed hopes that she might come out in support of Tanden, saying in a statement Monday that Tanden “has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency.”

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Budget Committees are scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to send Tanden’s nomination to the Senate floor.

Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who’s also clashed with Tanden, has been coy about whether he’ll support Tanden’s nomination. On Friday he said he planned to meet with her early this week.

During her confirmation hearing, Sanders criticized Tanden’s past tweets as well as corporate donations the Center for American Progress received while Tanden was leading the think tank.

The White House has maintained support for Tanden since Manchin’s statement put her confirmation in doubt. “I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed,” Biden said Friday night.

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