WASHINGTON — The two Senate committees tasked with approving Neera Tanden’s nomination to be White House budget chief postponed their Wednesday votes, hours before senators were expected to vote on the nominee.
An aide to Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Democrats said the panel postponed the meeting because “members need more time to consider the nominee.”
“The president deserves to have a team in place that he wants, and we’re going to work with our members to figure out the best path forward,” said the aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.
The Senate Budget Committee, which shares jurisdiction, never officially set a time for its expected business meeting on Wednesday. A Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity said Wednesday morning the vote had been postponed.
Several high-profile defections in recent days have put Tanden’s confirmation in jeopardy, starting with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who said Friday he couldn’t support her based on her past attacks on other lawmakers.
The Biden administration is still backing Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget despite the postponed hearings.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Tanden has a “broad spectrum of support” and that she “has a strong record of working with both parties that we expect to grow in President Biden’s cabinet as the first South Asian woman to lead OMB.”
Tanden has faced a rocky path to confirmation since then President-elect Joe Biden nominated her in November. Within hours, Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn referred to her as “radioactive.”
The bulk of Republicans’ criticism against Tanden has focused on past tweets in which she rebuked lawmakers for various actions or inactions, including calling Maine Sen. Susan Collins “the worst,” saying that “vampires have more heart” than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Voldemort” and “Moscow Mitch.”
During confirmation hearings before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel as well as the Budget Committee earlier this month, Tanden repeatedly apologized to lawmakers for her past remarks. She said she’d take a “radically different” approach to social media if confirmed.