Did Susan Collins Just Deliver a 'Death Blow' to Neera Tanden's Nomination?

Posted: Feb 22, 2021 7:00 AM
Did Susan Collins Just Deliver a 'Death Blow' to Neera Tanden's Nomination?

Source: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has confirmed she will vote against Neera Tanden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget—a move that comes after Sen. Joe Manchin said last week he opposed her, putting Tanden's nomination in peril. 

“The Director of OMB is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the federal budget and plays a significant role in any Administration’s fiscal and regulatory agenda," Collins said in a statement, reports Politico. "Congress has to be able to trust the OMB director to make countless decisions in an impartial manner, carrying out the letter of the law and congressional intent. Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency. Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend.

“In addition, Ms. Tanden’s decision to delete more than a thousand tweets in the days before her nomination was announced raises concerns about her commitment to transparency," she continued. "Should Congress need to review documents or actions taken by OMB, we must have confidence that the Director will be forthcoming.

“The OMB needs steady, experienced, responsive leadership. I will vote against confirming Ms. Tanden.”

Among the tweets Collins referred to was one where Tanden called the Republican senator from Maine "the worst," though she later apologized. 

Sen. Rob Portman confronted her about them during her confirmation hearing. 

“You wrote that Susan Collins is ‘the worst,’ that Tom Cotton is a fraud, that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz, you called Leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and Voldemort,” Portman said.

“I deleted tweets because I regretted my tone and I’ve deleted tweets over many months," Tanden said. "But for those concerned about my rhetoric and my language, I’m sorry, and I’m sorry for any hurt that they’ve caused."

According to Politico, Collins' opposition to Tanden “may be a death blow" to her nomination.

Tanden’s best hope for confirmation now lies with finding support from MITT ROMNEY (R-Utah) or LISA MURKOWSKI (R-Alaska). There are two reasons they might step forward. Tanden is close to White House chief of staff RON KLAIN, and her defeat would be seen not just as a defeat for President JOE BIDEN but as a personal rebuke to Klain. If Biden and Klain want to go all-out to save Tanden, they could offer Romney or Murkowski or — less likely — another Republican something significant in return.

But the more intriguing motive for Romney or Murkowski to back Tanden has to do with the internal dynamics of the 50-50 Senate, where there’s a budding competition among centrists for primacy. If Tanden is defeated, Manchin will get credit for it.

As several Senate sources noted to us Sunday night, a true power move now — though one that’s still not likely — would be for a Republican moderate such as Romney or Murkowski to swoop in and save Tanden to show Manchin that he doesn’t actually run the Senate. (Politico Playbook)

Romney and Murkowski have not publicly indicated how they will vote. According to Axios, Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been "coy" about whether he will support Tanden, telling CNN on Friday he "will be talking to Ms. Tanden early next week."

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