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Neera Tanden Withdraws Her Office Of Management And Budget Nomination

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Neera Tanden has withdrawn her name as President Biden's nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. Her nomination has been controversial, mostly because of disparaging comments she's made in the past about Republican lawmakers. White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez is with us now for more.

Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What did the White House and Tanden say this evening?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, the White House released a letter from Neera Tanden sent to President Biden saying, quote, "now seems clear that there is no path forward to gain confirmation." She basically said she didn't want a process - she didn't want the process to distract from Biden's priorities. And in a statement, Biden responded that he looks forward to having her serve in some capacity in his administration. But it's clear tonight that that won't be in the role that they had hoped for. You know, this is a big loss for Biden in Congress, and it's a sign just - one of the many signs of how difficult it will be for him to push his legislative priorities, given, you know, what is really a very slim majority that Democrats have in Congress.

SHAPIRO: Right, with this 50-50 Senate, you can't lose one vote. Remind us why Tanden's nomination became so controversial.

ORDOÑEZ: Well, you know, she was seen as a Democratic Party warrior. As head of the Center for American Progress, she sent tweets that some lawmakers saw as very polarizing. I mean, just some examples - she's called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Voldemort, you know, the "Harry Potter" villain. She described Senator Susan Collins of Maine as, quote, "the worst" and said that vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz, obviously the Republican senator from Texas. And it wasn't just Republicans. She was also critical of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and some of his supporters. You know, during her confirmation hearing, Tanden did say that she regretted that kind of language. But Biden faced a lot of pressure over this, considering he had promised a new tone, a more civil tone, in Washington.

SHAPIRO: But the Biden administration stood by Neera Tanden despite the controversy, so what changed?

ORDOÑEZ: That's right. You know, several lawmakers, though, on both sides of the aisle had made clear that they wouldn't support her nomination, and that included Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. You know, Senator Susan Collins had said Tanden lacked the experience and the temperament to lead the agency. And the administration had been making the rounds on Capitol Hill until recently, just trying to sell a couple Republican senators on her nomination. But that was always going to be a tall order.

SHAPIRO: Now, you said it seems likely that Tanden will serve in some other role in the administration, but this leaves a vacancy in the OMB position, which is really important. What are you hearing about who else Biden is considering right now?

ORDOÑEZ: So a congressional source and a source familiar with the deliberations tell me that there are several candidates being considered. One is John Jones. He's a former chief of staff to Representative Emanuel Cleaver and a veteran Democratic aide with deep ties to the Congressional Black Caucus. There has been a lot of attention recently on Shalanda Young as she is Biden's nominee for deputy OMB director. She had her first Senate confirmation hearing for the job on Tuesday. Also, Jared Bernstein - he's a longtime adviser to Biden, who is on - currently on the Council of Economic Advisers. There is also Gene Sperling, who was a top economic adviser to former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and Ann O'Leary, former chief of staff to California Governor Gavin Newsom. And she was also a former adviser to Hillary Clinton. You know, Ari, this is just such an important position, and I expect we'll hear a lot more in the coming days about how quickly the president is going to move.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez.

Thanks a lot.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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