On Friday, Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) spoke out against Tanden’s nomination and quoted her previous tweets in which he attacked lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Two keys Senate Republicans followed fit.
It did not go unnoticed in the White House that many of the lawmakers who protested Tanden’s social media missives – including Manchin – voted to confirm Richard Grenell, the sour Trump booster, for the post of US ambassador to Germany . Democrats on and off the hill also argued that Tanden, who is of South Asian descent, was one of several nominees for color who was treated differently than Trump-era nominees who praised personal attacks or expressed bigoted views.
“We disagree with their tweets, but in the past Trump nominees who have endorsed and supported them have had much more serious problems and conflicts than just something written on Twitter,” said Rep. Grace Meng (DN.Y. ) in an interview after tweeting in frustration over Manchin’s reported hesitation on some nominations. “This is not just about a candidate like Neera or whoever – it’s just about this pattern that is happening and is becoming harder and harder to ignore.”
A long-standing fixture in democratic politics, Tanden has grown into an oversized figure on the internet in recent years as she directed targeted, personal, and often extensive Twitter criticism of opponents left and right, including seated senators. Because of this, her appointment to the OMB post carried obvious risks, even as the Democrats took control of the Senate.
Their supporters are now saying that their social media presence is being used as a cover by their opponents and are realizing it She apologized for her tweets, deleted and taken ownership. And Democrats argue that after the Trump years there is little justification for someone’s online behavior serving as a disqualifier. They don’t just point to the ex-president’s and keen social media presence repeated attacks on lawmakers of color, but to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct during his Supreme Court Hearing to confirm and endorse former Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) As attorney general decades after losing a federal court bid on allegations of racism.
Kavanaugh “went insane at the hearing on senators,” said Ilyse Hogue, outgoing president of the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America. “They say Neera cannot be verified based on the tone of their tweets. It feels paper thin to me and certainly another measure of how women are supposed to speak of the men they voted for. “
It’s not just Tanden’s nomination that raises complaints about sexism and racial prejudice. White House officials and those who served in the transition note that some of Biden’s color nominees have seen their Senate nominations sluggish or have already received comparatively harsher criticism than the white men running for top management positions to have.
Republicans are currently pushing hard on former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Biden’s decision to head the Department of Health and Human Services, citing his views on expanding access to health care and abortion for unauthorized immigrants. They also argue that Becerra, whose mother immigrated from Guadalajara and whose father grew up in Tijuana, Mexico, is underqualified because he is not a doctor himself. Trump’s Minister of Health, Alex Azar wasn’t a doctor.
Biden’s Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed in a largely partisan vote earlier this month. Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant to serve in his post, had previously been ratified three times by the Senate. But his confirmation for this round was the lowest of all margins for Biden nominees.
Home Office candidate Deb Haaland could soon face even greater resistance. The Republicans have accused the potential first Native American of running the division as “radical” and indicated her support for progressive environmental policies and the rejection of new state oil and gas well leases. Manchin, who leads Haaland’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, said he remained undecided about her nomination and the others – indecision that sparked a sharp reprimand and an indication of bias from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.).
Manchin’s office declined to comment. But in an interview earlier in the day he realized that he had spoken to Tanden on Monday and would still stand against her.
“I’m all about bipartisanism. I really am. I told her: It’s not personal at all,” said Manchin. “There is a time for bipartisanship. We’ll see what happens on the other side.”
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP civil rights group, said as the candidates neared their confirmatory votes, “it would become clear whether a different level of control would be given to individuals or women of skin color.”
“I hope we will correct course quickly and not allow this to be a legacy from the Senate,” added Johnson.
Democrats fear that even more candidates for paint may get into trouble soon, including civil rights attorney Kristen Clarke, candidate for assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, and Vanita Gupta, Biden’s nominee for assistant attorney general. Gupta has been the subject of a recent advertising campaign by conservative groups accusing her of “wanting to release convicts” and “reducing sentences for white supremacists”. The group’s other target was Becerra. A third ad they ran accused the Biden administration of welcoming dark money.
“Vanita Gupta wants to disappoint the police and instead of engaging in this extremely dangerous position, her liberal defenders are making comic book claims to avoid the problems,” said Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, one of the sponsoring groups of the advertisements . Gupta did not ask for the police to be defused.
Janet Murguía, president and chief executive of Latino advocacy group UnidosUS, said she received a call to her team Monday morning that caused a lengthy conversation and growing concern over whether Biden’s cabinet selections hit roadblocks.
“It was incredibly disturbing to see a pattern or trend emerge where people of skin color and women appear to be at the bottom of the list for hearings and getting their affirmations completed,” Murguía said in an interview. “It is very insulting to see that footprint continue when we have the incredible need to put these different leaders in these different agencies.”
“The stalling of these nominations, regardless of party, doesn’t look good and raises many questions as to why,” she added.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked the same question on Monday when she listed Tanden, Haaland and Becerra as candidates for “further scrutiny”.
“There seems to be a pattern here,” said Hirono. She added that Biden’s nomination for US trade representative, Katherine Tai, would be the “only Asian woman in the cabinet” if Tanden’s nomination ultimately goes down.
“And nobody knows who [the] Is a sales agent, ”she said.
Burgess Everett and Meridith McGraw contributed to the coverage.