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US Democrat opposes Biden’s budget choice Tanden, risking confirmation and complicating agenda

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Senator Joe Manchin said on Friday he opposed President Joe Bidens’ appointment of Neera Tanden as head of the Bureau of Management and Budget, jeopardizing his chances of securing the post and introducing a new hurdle for the Democrats’ agenda.

FILE PHOTO: Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s candidate for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), testifies during a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA , February 10, 2021. Andrew Harnik / Pool via REUTERS /

Biden told reporters he had no plans to withdraw the nomination. I think I was going to find the votes to have it confirmed, Biden said.

Tanden has been criticized by Republicans – and some Democrats – over past harsh comments on social media, such as calling Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Moscow Mitch and claiming vampires have more heart than (Senator ) Ted Cruz.

Many Democrats scoffed at these concerns, noting the almost unanimous support of Republicans for former President Donald Trump, accused of instigating a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in part via inflammatory comments on Twitter and was known for criticizing opponents – especially women – as bad guys or criminals who should be locked up.

Manchin cited public statements and Tandens tweets in his statement. I believe his openly partisan statements will have a toxic and damaging impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Bureau of Management and Budget, he said.

His statement drew immediate condemnation, with some critics noting that the moderate Democrat – who represents the heavily Republican state of West Virginia – had backed some of Trump’s controversial candidates, including Richard Grenell to be ambassador to Germany.

Democrats had questioned Grenells’ nomination because of his past insulting statements towards female politicians on the internet and in cable TV appearances.

The Manchin opposition highlighted the influence of the Moderate Democrat on the ability of Biden Democrats to achieve the party’s political goals, given their tight control of the House and Senate.

His statement comes as Democrats in Congress seek to pass a $ 1.9 trillion COVID relief bill by the end of next week. Faced with fierce Republican opposition, this measure could also rest on Manchin.

If all Senate Democrats had backed Tanden, she could have been confirmed without Republican votes since Democrats control 50 seats in the chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie.

However, opposition from the Manchins means that Tanden must be supported by at least one Republican.

Tanden, who is Native American, is said to be the first woman of color to become director of the OMB, which serves as the guardian of the $ 4 trillion federal budget.

Asked during her confirmation hearings about her tweets, Tanden apologized and said she regretted their tone.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki praised Tanden as an accomplished political expert who would be an excellent budget manager. She said the administration would continue to work for her confirmation by engaging with both sides.

If Tanden is not confirmed, it would be a setback in a presidential transition already delayed by Trump’s refusal – backed by many of his fellow Republicans – to recognize Bidens’ victory in the November election, even after repeated court rulings showed that there had been no fraud.

So far, the handful of Biden candidates who have run for the Senate, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, have been confirmed by comfortable margins with bipartisan support.

Biden could also install Tanden as OMB director by granting him a suspension appointment, a temporary measure that could allow him to run the office for nearly two years.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reports by Alexandra Alper and Trevor Hunnicutt; Edited by Jonathan Oatis, Bill Berkrot and Daniel Wallis

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