- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2021

President Biden’s nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget is facing mounting opposition on Capitol Hill where her “toxic” past is coming back to haunt her in a big way.

The White House said Monday Ms. Tanden still has a path to winning confirmation, but those prospects dimmed Monday after three possible Republican swing voters - Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio - announced their opposition. 

Sen. Joe Manchin III delivered what could prove to be the fatal blow last week when he came out against her confirmation, saying her “overtly partisan statements” will have a “toxic and detrimental impact” on the working relationship between members of Congress and the OMB Director.

From her perch as president of the liberal Center for American Progress, Ms. Tanden was a social media warrior, deriding Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell as “Moscow Mitch” and ‘Voldemort,’ and describing Ms. Collins as “the worst.”

Republicans also have highlighted how she called Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas “a fraud” and posted that “vampires have more heart” than Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Left-wing activists also have targeted Ms. Tanden, saying she was openly disdainful of Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and his backers.

It is a problem given the 50-50 makeup of the Senate, where her hopes of winning confirmation hinge on her winning support from some of the same people she lashed out at.

Ms. Tanden has tried to stop the bleeding, erasing social media posts, and apologizing to Senators for her past attacks and heated partisan rhetoric.

“For those concerned about my rhetoric and my language, I’m sorry,” Ms. Tanden said. “I’m sorry for any hurt that they’ve caused.”

Still, White House press secretary Jen Psak struck an optimistic note at the daily briefing, telling reporters the administration continues to support her.

“The president nominated her because he believes she’d be a stellar OMB director,” Ms. Psaki said. “She’s tested. She’s a leading policy expert. She has led a think tank in Washington that has done a great deal of work on policy issues, but has done a great deal of bipartisan work as well.”

Asked whether the White House believes she can survive the opposition to her confirmation, Ms. Psaki said, “We do.” 

Mr. Portman, ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which shares jurisdiction over her nomination, said Monday afternoon that Ms. Tanden’s past statements and her decision to delete some of her Twitter history to try to hide those statements struck a bad tone.

“While the president has the right to choose his own Cabinet, and thus far I have supported all of this administration’s nominees, I will not be supporting the confirmation of Ms. Tanden,” said Mr. Portman, who himself served as  director for President George W. Bush.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said Ms. Tanden’s nomination is likely doomed.

“I think at some point she’s just burned her bridges,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll have a great future doing something else but not as OMB director.”

• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report

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