Shalanda Young will serve as the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget if the Senate confirms her as deputy director, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Psaki stopped short of saying that President Joe Biden would nominate Young for the top budget director role. That post opened up on Tuesday when Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination amid mounting opposition from moderate Democrats and nearly all Senate Republicans.
The Biden administration is “certainly hopeful Congress will move forward” soon to approve Young for deputy director, Psaki said. “Then she would be in a place to be the acting head, while we go through the process of nominating a replacement for Neera."
Young, who began working for the House Appropriations Committee in 2007 before being promoted to staff director in 2017, has won strong bipartisan backing since her nomination was made.
That support has only grown in the last 48 hours, as top House Democrats endorsed Young to lead the White House budget office. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, the Congressional Black Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition all threw their considerable influence behind Young.
“Her leadership at the OMB would be historic and would send a strong message that this Administration is eager to work in close coordination with Members of Congress to craft budgets that meet the challenges of our time and can secure broad, bipartisan support,” wrote Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn in a joint statement.
Young has also received the backing of several influential Republicans including Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Young and Jason Miller, nominated to be OMB’s deputy director for management, testified on Thursday for two hours in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about numerous policy areas — a sign of just how broad their roles would be if confirmed.
Both nominees pledged to broaden recruitment and reduce barriers to working in the federal government. Young answered the majority of senators’ questions, reflecting that many lawmakers wanted to hear from the woman they expect Biden will soon bump up from deputy director nominee to director nominee.
During the hearing, Young pledged to work with senators to increase transparency into how the Army Corps of Engineers determines which infrastructure projects it will fund, an issue she said has frustrated both Republicans and Democrats.
“I’ve never heard more complaints from bipartisan members than what happens at OMB on the Army Corps list, so you have my commitment to working with you on that,” she said.
If confirmed, Young said she would work to broaden federal government recruitment efforts. She said she was only able to get her start as a presidential management fellow after being “lucky” enough to see a brochure in her university’s dean’s office. “I think people will travel, they will serve their country,” she said. “They just don’t know a lot of opportunities exist.
Young also waded into the ongoing debate about the size of annual deficits and the national debt, saying that for now it’s “manageable.”
“It is okay with interest rates being as low as they are,” she said. “We remain thankfully in a good place to continue to combat the pandemic the way we are.”