Biden allies lobbying White House to find potential replacement for budget nominee Tanden as senators oppose her


Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), attends a hearing with the Senate Committee on the Budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 10, 2021.

Anna Moneymaker | Pool | Reuters

President Joe Biden’s administration is being urged to start looking for possible replacement nominees for Neera Tanden, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, as the pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is on the verge of failing to pass the Senate.

Numerous Biden allies, including those in the business community, are lobbying the White House, these people added.

Two names being pushed as potential replacements are Gene Sperling, who has ties to former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Ann O’Leary, who has ties to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Biden’s allies are encouraging his advisors to prepare for the possibility that the Senate may not confirm Tanden, according to the people.

Many of those same allies are also warning the White House of another possible scenario: If Tanden doesn’t have the votes to get through the Senate, she could just withdraw from the nomination herself.

Those who described the lobbying efforts did so under the condition of anonymity because these deliberations were in private.

Sperling was director of the National Economic Council under Clinton and Obama. O’Leary was a 2016 campaign advisor for Hillary Clinton who later became chief of staff to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

O’Leary has publicly praised Tanden. The White House has continued to stand by Tanden, including at Monday’s press briefing.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the briefing that the administration has been calling on lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to support Tanden’s nomination.

“We have been working the phones, in touch with Democrats and Republicans and their offices through the course of the weekend,” Psaki said.

Representatives for the White House and the Center for American Progress, the think tank Tanden runs, did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Democrats currently control the Senate by a slim majority, but three lawmakers have come forward to declare that they will vote no on Tanden’s confirmation. One of those who has said they will not back Tanden is Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, don’t plan to vote in support of her either.

Each of the three senators has cited Tanden’s record of blasting federal officials on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, which is currently reviewing her nomination.

During her confirmation hearing, Sanders took aim at Tanden’s history of “vicious attacks” against progressives and Sanders himself. In a CNN interview on Friday, Sanders would not say whether he would vote in support of Tanden but said that he would talk to her ”early next week.”

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