Biden promises controversial Indian American another job.
President Joe Biden promised Indian American Neera Tanden, his controversial pick for budget director, another job after he was forced to pull her nomination in the face of bipartisan opposition over her offensive tweets.
“I look forward to having her serve in a role in my administration. She will bring valuable perspective and insight to our work,” stated Biden Tuesday after facing his first major political setback.
It was not clear what job Tanden would get, but she may be appointed to an administration role that does not require Senate confirmation.
Earlier, Tanden, who would have been the second Indian-American in a US presidential cabinet after Republican Nikki Haley, who served as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to UN with cabinet rank, accepted the inevitable.
READ: White House vows to keep fighting for Neera Tanden (February 26, 2021)
“I am writing to you to withdraw my nomination,” Tanden wrote to Biden after the White House failed to win over at least one Republican senator in the 50-50 senate with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin dead set on opposing her.
Indian American vice-president Kamala Harris’ casting vote would have failed to carry her through without all 50 Democrats backing her in the evenly divided Senate without a Republican vote.
“Unfortunately, it now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation, and I do not want continued consideration of my nomination to be a distraction from your other priorities,” Tanden wrote.
Tanden would have been the first Indian American and first woman of color to lead the powerful office of management and budget (OMB) charged with crafting the $5 trillion US budget and vetting government policies and appointments.
In her controversial tweets, many of which were deleted in recent months, Tanden called Sen. Mitch McConnell “Moscow Mitch,” comparing him to Voldemort and Sen. Ted Cruz to a vampire and insinuated that Sen. Bernie Sanders benefited from Russian hacking in the 2016 election.
In two confirmation hearings, she repeatedly apologized for the tweets and promised to strike a more collegial tone as a member of the administration.
Tanden, according to the Hill, met with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski this week in a last-ditch bid by the White House to attract Republican support to overcome Manchin’s “no” vote.
Murkowski, the Hill said, seemed surprised by the news and said Tuesday evening that she had not yet made up her mind about whether to support Tanden.
The White House, she said, had not consulted her before pulling the nomination. “They never asked,” she said.
READ: Indicating trouble, Neera Tanden’s Senate committee votes postponed (February 24, 2021)
“Now, it means that I’m going to have to do the Alaska tutorial 101 all over again with whoever it is that they name,” she was quoted as saying, referring to her Monday meeting with Tanden.
Citing regular Republican support for Trump who regularly branded rivals as “crazy,” “little,” “crooked,” “low IQ” and other epithets, Tanden’s defenders said scuttling her nomination dripped of hypocrisy.
Many liberal Democrats were also furious over the setback.
“No accountability for Trump trying to overthrow the US government, but Republicans and Joe Manchin really stood up for civility against Neera Tanden’s tweets. What a disgraceful and nationally embarrassing farce,” wrote former Obama aide Ben Rhodes.
“How is it OK that Marjorie Greene wanted to see Speaker Pelosi killed, Ted Cruz incited violence, and they get to keep their seats, but Neera Tanden’s tweets hurt feelings so no confirmation? The hypocrisy is infuriating,” tweeted another supporter.
“The idea that @neeratanden ‘s nomination failed while so many of the jokers and clowns of the Trump admin were confirmed is a testament to a cynical, broken, sexist system.”
“Very disappointed. We worked our hearts out and did everything we could to help Neera,” said Shekar Narasimhan, a Democratic donor who also leads an initiative to promote Asian-descent Democratic politicians.
“This would not have happened if Democrats stuck together and realised how critical the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) community is to their electoral prospects in the future.”
READ: Neera Tanden highlights her India born mother’s struggle in America (February 9, 2021)
“I represent one of the largest Indian-American districts in US,” tweeted Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, in late February as Tanden’s chances of being confirmed dimmed.
How do I look at what’s happening to @neeratanden and tell little girls of South Asian descent that they’ll have the same opportunities in life as white men? The answer: I can’t. And that’s a shame.”
Since her Dec. 1 nomination, Tanden worked hard to allay the skepticism about her selection meeting with 46 different senators, offering apologies and explanations for her salty, and often offensive, tweets, CNN reported citing officials.
READ: Neera Tanden, who lives and breathes politics and policy (December 26, 2020)
On Wednesday last week, the two committees that had been scheduled to hold votes on Tanden’s nomination abruptly delayed them indicating she was in trouble.
Apart from Manchin, the Budget Committee chair Sanders too had not embraced her as Biden’s nominee to lead OMB.
“Neera Tanden does not have the votes, so we’ll have to see what happens in the future,” Sanders told CNN shortly before the White House pulled her nomination.
When pressed for his position, Sanders replied, “I’ll make that decision when the vote takes place.”
List of Indian Americans in the Biden administration (January 2, 2021)
Biden defends ‘smart as hell’ Neera Tanden (December 3, 2020)
Like Kamala, Neera stands on the shoulders of her Indian mother (December 2, 2020)
Indian American Neera Tanden tipped to head Biden’s budget office (November 30, 2020)