President Biden is standing behind a pair of Cupboard picks going through uphill battles — together with Neera Tanden, his nominee to steer the Workplace of Administration and Funds, and Xavier Becerra, his decide for secretary of the Division of Well being and Human Companies — as a rising variety of senators have vowed to oppose their confirmations.
Tanden’s affirmation seems to be essentially the most in jeopardy after a number of swing vote senators — together with no less than one Democrat — have introduced plans to vote towards her affirmation. The previous president of the liberal Middle for American Progress repeatedly got here below hearth throughout her affirmation listening to, as Republicans pointed to hostile tweets she posted towards numerous lawmakers — a lot of which she deleted late final yr.
Throughout that listening to, Sen. Ron Portman, R-Ohio, gave examples of “a couple of of the hundreds of unfavorable public statements” Tanden has made. These included her calling Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, “the worst” and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a “fraud,” saying that “vampires have extra coronary heart than Ted Cruz,” and referring to then-Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as “Moscow Mitch” and “Voldemort,” referring to the Harry Potter villain.
Portman stated that even after Tanden deleted tweets, there have been nonetheless 9 pages of posts about Cruz that have been nonetheless up.
“I ponder, particularly, how do you propose to fix fences and construct relationships with members of Congress you will have attacked by means of your public statements?” Portman requested.
“I acknowledge the priority,” Tanden replied. “I deeply remorse and apologize for my language — a few of my previous language. I acknowledge that this position is a bipartisan position, and I do know I’ve to earn the belief of senators throughout the board. I’ll work very aggressively to satisfy that concern.”
Tanden stated she hopes to work “in a bipartisan and nonpartisan method,” whereas acknowledging that “it’s upon me to show that to this committee and to members.”
However following the listening to, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., stated he would oppose her nomination, citing her tweets, and saying that her “overtly partisan statements can have a poisonous and detrimental influence on the necessary working relationship between members of Congress and the subsequent director of the Workplace of Administration and Funds.”
“For that reason, I can not assist her nomination,” Manchin stated.
Manchin’s opposition meant Tanden will want Republican assist. However that effort to woo a Republican was hampered when Collins additionally stated Monday she would vote towards Tanden—dealing one other blow to her affirmation.
“Congress has to have the ability to belief the OMB director to make numerous selections in an neutral method, finishing up the letter of the legislation and congressional intent,” Collins stated in an announcement on Monday. “Neera Tanden has neither the expertise nor the temperament to steer this vital company.”
However the White Home remains to be standing behind her, vowing to not pull her nomination, although it is unclear how Tanden will cobble collectively sufficient votes.
“The president nominated her as a result of he thought she can be stellar,” White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated Monday, noting her expertise.
When requested in the event that they nonetheless felt her affirmation was doable, Psaki stated: “We do.”
In the meantime, one other Biden decide is going through heightened scrutiny, with Becerra preparing for his affirmation listening to within the Senate on Tuesday as Republicans have signaled plans to deal with attempting to torpedo his nomination. However he might even have issues with Democrats: Manchin’s workplace says he hasn’t determined whether or not he’ll assist Becerra.
Greater than 100 conservatives despatched a memo to Republican members of Congress outlining their issues with Becerra’s nomination, calling him an “extremist” who would carry a liberal agenda if confirmed.
“Becerra has proven neither the judgment, character, or respect for human life obligatory to steer the company with such affect over the foundational rights of all Individuals,” they continued. “Beneath his watch, we consider HHS – an company that ought to shield human life, dignity, and enshrine the values of non secular liberty – can be weaponized towards partisan and damaging ends.”
They added: “For all these causes, we urge the Senate to firmly reject his affirmation.”
Conservative teams have additionally taken difficulty with Becerra main HHS amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying he has “no well being care expertise,” and as an alternative, that a physician or public well being care professional must be main the division.
Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates defended Becerra, saying he has “many years of well being care coverage expertise, labored with Republicans and Democrats to broaden entry to COVID remedies and tackle opioid producers, whereas main the biggest state division of justice within the nation.”
Bates added that Becerra additionally has a “robust report of combating to decrease prices for sufferers.”
“That is why President Biden selected this examined, certified chief to be on the forefront of the pandemic response and to assist decrease drug costs,” Bates stated. “We stay up for his hearings and affirmation votes.”
And Psaki on Monday, throughout her briefing, stated Becerra “helped play a task in getting the Inexpensive Care Act by means of” and “brings many years of well being care coverage expertise to the desk.”
Psaki pointed to Becerra’s work as California legal professional common, saying he “fought alongside his Republican counterparts to broaden entry to COVID remedies.”
Regardless of conservative opposition, the Biden transition group advised Fox Information that Becerra is wanting ahead to “working in good religion with members of each events in Congress.”
In the meantime, Biden’s decide for legal professional common Decide Merrick Garland additionally appeared this week for his affirmation hearings earlier than the Senate Judiciary Committee. Garland was pressed on hot-button points however lawmakers on the committee, together with Republicans, indicated he would probably be confirmed.
Fox Information’ Megan Henney, Brittany De Lea, and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.