Neera Tanden's Stinging Criticism of Republican Senators May Hurt Confirmation Chances

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Neera Tanden as his administration's director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), but the liberal think tank chief executive's past criticism of GOP senators could lead to a confirmation battle if Republicans retain control of the upper chamber.

An unnamed person familiar with the Biden transition process told the Associated Press Sunday about the former vice president's plan to pick Tanden, the Center for American Progress' president and CEO, for the influential OMB role. Tanden is a divisive figure among some Democrats and an outspoken critic of both Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump.

If either of the two Republican incumbents—Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue—defeat their Democratic challengers in the upcoming Senate runoff elections, then the GOP will keep their majority and could determine Tanden's confirmation fate.

A spokesperson for Senator John Cornyn on Sunday evening invoked her past criticisms of Republicans in the upper chamber to insist that she'll have no chance of securing the position with a GOP-led Senate.

"Neera Tanden, who has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators' whose votes she'll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed," tweeted Drew Brandewie, Cornyn's communications director.

Neera Tanden
Neera Tanden speaks at the “Impeachment Now!” rally in support of an immediate inquiry towards articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. on September 26, 2019. Paul Morigi/Getty

Tanden accused Senate Republicans of hypocrisy last month after they quickly advanced the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before Election Day. "This rushed and illegitimate process is an insult to the American people and fundamentally changes the nature of the Supreme Court from one of fairness and justice to an arm of the Republican political agenda," she wrote in a statement.

She also noted that virtually every GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee claimed that former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 was too close to an election. "[That] was nine months out," she said. "We are now 12 days from the election."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has broken the Senate, he has broken the Supreme Court, and in conjunction with President Donald Trump, he has broken our democracy," Tanden added.

In 2017, Tanden strongly condemned Republicans for passing a tax bill that would "give massive cuts to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations while raising taxes on millions of working- and middle class Americans."

"Shame on them," she said.

With these past criticisms, Republicans are likely to view Tanden as an enemy to their agenda, which could hinder her chances of being confirmed. Additionally, Biden's decision to name such a divisive figure among progressive Democrats could also result in an intraparty rift.

In April 2019, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a scathing letter to the Center for American Progress accusing Tanden of "maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas" after Think Progress produced a video mocking his status as a millionaire.

The incident, coupled with Tanden's longtime status as a Hillary Clinton loyalist and opponent of Medicare for All, has left her unpopular among a liberal wing of the party trying to shift Democrats further to the left.

Newsweek reached out to the President-elect's transition team for comment.