Senators scoffed during a confirmation hearing Tuesday at President Joe Biden’s attempt to install a radical ideologue in control of an often overlooked but influential government agency.
The Office of Management and Budget wields considerable behind-the-scenes policy-making influence when it comes to managing and keeping greased the wheels of the Washington, DC, bureaucracy.
As holder of the purse-strings, the supposedly apolitical agency could slow-walk or fast-track the inner-mechanisms of government.
But senators on both side of the aisle expressed alarm over the nomination of Neera Tanden, CEO and president of the far-left Center for American Progress, who not only hails from a highly partisan background, but has made her views part of the record in less-than-professional form.
“I believe that the tone, the content and the aggressive partisanship of some of your public statements have added to the troubling trend of more incivility and division in our public life, and in your case I’m concerned that your personal attacks about specific senators will make it more difficult for you to work with them,” Portman said.
He noted “a few of the thousands of negative public statements” Tanden had made against the very senators tasked with confirming her.
- calling Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, “the worst”
- calling Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a “fraud”
- saying that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz”
- referring to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as “Moscow Mitch” and “Voldemort”
Although Tanden recently deleted many of the tweets, Portman noted that at least nine pages of attacks on Cruz remained public on her Twitter account.
“You actually have tweeted more in the past four years than President Trump tweeted as far as just numbers, and it’s been pretty hostile obviously,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., observed.
Tanden’s organization also drew the ire of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who wrote in 2019, during his presidential campaign, blaming the Center for American Progress of “maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas.”
The center was founded by John Podesta, who was exposed for conspiring to undermine Sanders during his time as chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Tanden offered a tepid expression of “regret” for the toxic remarks in response to Portman’s pressing.
“I recognize the concern,” she said.
“I deeply regret and apologize for my language—some of my past language,” she continued. “I recognize that this role is a bipartisan role, and I know I have to earn the trust of senators across the board. I will work very aggressively to meet that concern.”
Despite Tanden’s subsequent claims that she would work toward bipartisanship, GOP lawmakers urged senators to reject the nominee.
“[I]t would be the height of irresponsibility to put someone with this documented managerial record in the top leadership role at a major federal agency, responsible for hundreds of civil servants, putting at risk the rights and protections guaranteed to the employees of OMB,” wrote members of the House Budget Committee in a letter to Senate leaders.
The letter outlined additional examples of partisanship and corruption exhibited by Tanden, including her cozy relationship with Wall Street firms, a physical assault on a reporter and the outing of a sexual-harassment victim.