A front-runner “Plan B” option to direct the Office of Management and Budget has privately touted her ability to get confirmed by the Senate, even as she publicly supports the confirmation of her friend, President Biden’s controversial nominee Neera Tanden, according to a report.
Privately, O’Leary has not shied away from angling herself as Tanden’s replacement, touting herself as a skilled policy builder and a less-partisan alternative, three Democratic sources told Politico. O’Leary, a longtime Democratic operative, most recently served as chief of staff to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Two of the sources said O’Leary even told them she could be confirmed by the Senate.
Publicly, O’Leary has advocated for Tanden, whose chances at the top budget job are slim after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and a slew of Republican moderates said they’d vote against her, citing years of hostile and overtly partisan tweets. Privately, too, sources said she is still expressing support for Tanden and doesn’t seem to be openly campaigning for the position.
O’Leary and Tanden have a history together: The two worked side-by-side in a tight-knit “brain trust” policy advisory group.
NEERA TANDEN COMMITTEE VOTES ABRUPTLY DELAYED AS BIDEN BUDGET PICK’S NOMINATION IN JEOPARDY
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and Budget Committees postponed planned business meetings Wednesday where they were supposed to vote on Tanden.
When reached by Politico, O’Leary reiterated support for Tanden. “Neera Tanden is exceptionally well-qualified and should be confirmed for this position,” O’Leary said. “I have worked with her for years and years, and I can’t imagine a better advocate for President Biden to get his budget through Congress and help manage the policies of this administration. I am 1,000 percent behind her.”
The White House has yet to acknowledge the slim chances their first nominee will be confirmed for the job. When pressed on if Biden was considering other options after two Senate committees postponed their votes, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday: “There’s one nominee to lead the budget department. Her name’s Neera Tanden and that’s who we are continuing to fight for.”
“Neera Tanden is a leading policy expert who brings critical qualifications to the table during this time of unprecedented crisis,” Psaki said earlier Wednesday. “She also has important perspective and values, understanding firsthand the powerful difference policy can make in the lives of those going through hard times. She has a broad spectrum of support, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to labor unions, and 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.”
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Manchin said he would vote against Tanden because her mean tweets foreshadowed a “toxic and detrimental impact” on the relationship between Congress and the OMB.
“I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others,” Manchin said. “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.”
No other Republican has yet announced support for Tanden, and a number of moderates who have voted for all of Biden’s other nominees have said they will not vote for her.
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Other names being floated to replace Tanden include Shalanda Young, Biden’s pick for deputy director of OMB, and Gene Sperling, an economic aide in the Clinton and Obama administrations.