Senate panel schedules hearing for Biden’s budget director nominee

Neera Tanden, head of the Center for American Progress think tank, has provoked ire on both the right and left

Energy secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm, left, and Neera Tanden, Office of Management and Budget director nominee, attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Energy secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm, left, and Neera Tanden, Office of Management and Budget director nominee, attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted February 2, 2021 at 12:15pm

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s choice for White House budget director, will get her first nomination hearing next week in what could become one of the most contentious confirmation battles of the new administration.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear from Tanden, a longtime Democratic policy adviser, on Feb. 9 — the same day the Senate plans to begin former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

[Biden tees up confirmation battle over budget chief selection]

Republicans are primed for a fight over Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress since 2011. Her brash style has earned her enmity at times from both the left and the right.

There’s a lengthy public record of Tanden rebuking Senate Republicans, both generally and individually.

In a statement after Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed on Oct. 22, Tanden said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had “broken the Senate, he has broken the Supreme Court, and in conjunction with President Donald Trump, he has broken our democracy.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in December called Tanden Biden’s “worst nominee so far.”

Tanden has broad experience in both policy and politics and deep ties to the Clintons. She served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign and later as director of domestic policy for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

She began her political career as an associate director for domestic policy in Bill Clinton’s White House, later serving as a health care adviser in the Obama administration.

Tanden’s policy prescriptions range from the center to the left in the Democratic Party. She opposes “Medicare for All” but favors a public Medicare option.

The Senate Budget Committee, which shares jurisdiction over Tanden’s confirmation, plans to hold its own hearing sometime this month, incoming Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has said.

Sanders hasn’t been quick to embrace Tanden, however, as the two haven’t seen eye to eye in the past. His distrust runs back through both of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, in particular the role Tanden played in backing her former boss’s candidacy over Sanders in 2016.

The bad blood culminated in 2019, as Sanders was running again for the Democratic presidential nomination, when he fired off a letter to the Center for American Progress board accusing Tanden of “maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas.”

Sanders has been very quiet about Tanden since Biden announced her as his choice for OMB director, and technically he hasn’t had the ability to schedule a hearing anyway since he won’t become Budget chairman until the Senate formally organizes for the 117th Congress.

Also, there’s a time limit on Budget Committee consideration. Under Senate rules, if one of the committees votes to report Tanden’s nomination, the other panel must do so within 30 calendar days or the nomination would be automatically discharged.