WASHINGTON – The increasingly slim odds — and surprisingly thin outreach from the White House — for Neera Tanden’s nomination as head of the Office of Management and Budget are raising growing questions about how long the president will stick with her, in an early test of how he will use his limited political capital.
In the latest sign of trouble for Tanden, two Senate panels slated to take up her nomination, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Budget Committee, both postponed meetings scheduled for Wednesday.
For the third straight day, the White House batted off questions about Tanden’s path to confirmation after at least one key Democrat and multiple Republicans came out against her.
Facing steep headwinds, President Joe Biden must make the calculation whether it’s worth expending political capital to defend Tanden as he faces tough fights with a divided Congress on everything from his $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package to coming legislative packages on infrastructure and immigration.
Biden said Tuesday that the administration was going to keep pushing on Tanden because “we still think there’s a shot, a good shot.” And White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the White House is still “fighting for her nomination.”
Tanden’s confirmation prospects were thrown into doubt over the last week after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he could not support her, citing her controversial tweets attacking members of both parties.
Tanden needs 51 votes in an evenly divided Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tiebreaker. That means the White House can't afford to lose another Democratic vote, and one key centrist Democrat, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has yet to announce her position.
Without Manchin’s support, the White House has been left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. After three key moderate Republican senators said in recent days they would vote against her, the White House has faced daily questions about Tanden's path to confirmation.