WASHINGTON - Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin announced Friday that he would oppose President Joe Biden's nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which could end her chances of confirmation despite continued support from the president.
Biden told reporters he did not intend to pull the nomination. "I think we're gonna find the votes to get her confirmed," he said.
Tanden has been criticized by Republicans — and some Democrats — over past harsh comments on social media, such as calling Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell "Moscow Mitch" and saying "vampires have more heart than [Senator] Ted Cruz."
Many Democrats scoffed at such concerns, noting near-unanimous Republican support for former President Donald Trump, who was accused of inciting a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol partly via inflammatory comments on Twitter and was known for blasting opponents — particularly women — as "nasty" or criminals who should be locked up.
Manchin cited Tanden's "public statements and tweets" in his statement.
"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," he said.
His statement drew immediate condemnation, with some critics noting that the moderate Democrat, who represents the strongly Republican state of West Virginia, had backed some of Trump's controversial nominees, including Richard Grenell to be ambassador to Germany.
Democrats had questioned Grenell's appointment because of his past statements insulting to female politicians on the internet and during cable television appearances.
One Republican vote needed
If every Senate Democrat supports Tanden, she could be confirmed without Republican votes, since Democrats control 50 seats in the chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris can break a tie.
However, Manchin's opposition means Tanden must be supported by a least one Republican.
Tanden, who is Indian American, would be the first woman of color to serve as director of the OMB.
Questioned at her confirmation hearings about her tweets, Tanden apologized and said she regretted their tone.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki praised Tanden as "an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent budget director." She said the administration would keep working toward her confirmation by engaging with both parties.
If Tanden is not confirmed, it would be a setback in a presidential transition that was already delayed by Trump's refusal, backed by many of his fellow Republicans, to recognize Biden's victory in the November election, even after repeated court decisions showed there had been no widespread fraud.