Manchin says he'll vote against Budget nominee

AP PhotoFILE - In this Feb. 13, 2021, file photo Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Sen. Joe Manchin said Friday that he will vote against the nomination of Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

The announcement by Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, highlights the narrow path this administration must walk to get confirmations and legislation through an evenly divided Senate.

Now, if she is to be confirmed, Tanden will need the vote of at least one Republican senator. Vice President Kamala Harris’s vote would then break a tie in the 50/50 Senate.

Manchin said he was concerned with Tanden's deeply personal and public criticisms of many in the Senate on both sides of the political aisle.

"I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others,” Manchin said in his press release. "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.

"As I have said before, we must take meaningful steps to end the political division and dysfunction that pervades our politics,” Manchin said in the release. "At a time of grave crisis, it is more important than ever that we chart a new bipartisan course that helps address the many serious challenges facing our nation.”

Manchin, as a Senate centrist who is looking for a bipartisanship path forward, is carrying significant leverage to affect the success of the Biden legislative agenda as well as whom the president chooses to staff his administration.

Manchin has already cast considerable doubt as to whether the president’s minimum wage proposal of $15 an hour will survive as Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan takes shape in Congress.

Biden still thinks Tanden will draw a Republican vote or two and said Friday night that he would not withdraw her nomination.

“I think we are going to find the votes and get her confirmed,” he said.

Echoing her boss, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, came to Tanden’s defense Friday night.

“Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent budget director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties.” 

The Office of Management and Budget is critical to the execution of the administration’s economic and policy agendas.

Tanden, who has been critical of the party’s liberals, served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. She would be the first woman of color to oversee the OMB.

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