White House press secretary Jen Psaki continued to dance around questions about Neera Tanden’s nomination to run the Office of Budget and Management Wednesday as reporters asked whether she has offered to pull her name from consideration after two Senate committees postponed a confirmation vote.
At the White House briefing Psaki was asked straight up if Tanden, facing bipartisan opposition, has offered to withdraw.
”That’s not the stage we’re in,” Psaki responded.
“The stage we’re in is working to continue to fight for her nomination, and as you know, it’s a numbers game, right? It’s a matter of getting one Republican to support her nomination. We’re continuing to do that outreach, answer questions they have, and continue to reiterate her qualifications,” she said.
Tanden’s nomination teetered on collapse after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa) said he would not vote for her because of her history of making divisive comments about lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including targeting some by name, on Twitter.
“I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination,” Manchin said.
Losing Manchin in the narrowly divided Senate means that the Biden administration would have to get at least one Republican to vote for her.
But shortly after Manchin came out against Tanden, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio followed suit.
Since Nov. 1, Tanden appears to have deleted more than 1,000 tweets.
The White House continued to go to bat for Tanden despite the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee postponed Wednesday’s hearings.
“Let me first state that as the president repeated yesterday, we’re fighting for her nomination, and she and our team remain in close contact and close touch with senators and key constituency groups,” Psaki said.
”She’s an expert whose qualifications are critical during this time of an unprecedented crisis, and she has rolled up her sleeves. She’s very engaged and doing outreach to senators, to members on the Hill, answering any questions they have and offering to do that and we’re doing the same,” she continued, noting that the Senate panels sought the delay so members could perform their due diligence.
Psaki was also asked about whether the White House had consulted with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Budget Committee, before announcing Tanden’s nomination.
Sanders, who cast the first Democratic vote against a Cabinet nominee, opposing Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, raised concerns about corporate donations the Center for American Progress received while Tanden led the organization.
“I don’t think I can speak to her announcement or who was or wasn’t consulted in the days ahead from several months ago, but Sen. Sanders is someone who we consult with regularly at many levels, including at the president’s level, and expect we’ll work with him on confirmations but also a range of the president’s objectives,” Psaki said.