President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, will pledge to bring a bipartisan approach to the role during her confirmation hearing Tuesday as she faces down fierce opposition from Senate Republicans.
In her prepared opening remarks before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Tanden vows that, if confirmed, she will “vigorously enforce my ironclad belief that our government should serve all Americans — regardless of party — in every corner of the country.”
Tanden also commits to “work in good faith with all Members of this Committee to tackle the challenges Americans are facing; to address duplication or ineffective programs; to be responsive to you and your staff’s inquiries; and to assist the Committee in its important oversight role.”
The bipartisan message will kick off what’s expected to be a tense and partisan confirmation hearing after Tanden fielded a wave of criticism from GOP lawmakers over her past tweets slamming Republican politicians. While many of her tweets expressed sentiments common to partisan Democratic operatives, some Republicans have signaled that the tweets are a vulnerability.
An ally of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Tanden previously served as a senior adviser for health reform at the US Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, where she helped work on the Affordable Care Act.
More recently, she’s served as CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Tanden acknowledged in her prepared opening statement that the role of OMB director “is different from some of my past positions” but maintained that she’s aware the job “calls for bipartisan action, as well as a nonpartisan adherence to facts and evidence.”
“OMB will play a vital role in addressing many of the biggest challenges we face: from beating back the virus, to delivering aid that will help ensure a strong economic recovery for all families, to ensuring we build back better than before,” she will say, according to the prepared remarks.
Tanden has an additional confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee set for Wednesday, where she’ll be answering to Chairman Bernie Sanders, with whom she’s clashed with for years.
But the pair sat down for a lengthy one-on-one meeting in recent weeks, according to two officials familiar with the meeting. One person briefed on the meeting told CNN it was over an hour and no stone was left unturned, describing it as an opportunity for the two to discuss years of public clashing and private interactions.
Beyond her vow to engage in good faith bipartisan cooperation, Tanden will also use her opening remarks Tuesday to speak in deeply personal terms about her upbringing when, she says, her family, “relied on food stamps to eat, and Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent.”
“At school, I remember being the only kid in the cafeteria line who used ten-cent vouchers from the Free Lunch Program. I remember using food stamps at the grocery store,” she will say.
Tanden will add later: “As I sit before this Committee, I’m mindful that my path in life would never have been possible without budgetary choices that reflected our nation’s values — many of them made in the very agency I am now nominated to lead.”