Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) spoke out against Tanden’s appointment on Friday, citing his past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Two key Senate Republicans followed suit.
Inside the White House, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that many lawmakers who oppose Tanden’s social media missives – including Manchin – have voted to confirm Richard Grenell, Trump’s booster at the acid language, to the post of American ambassador to Germany. Democrats on and off the Hill also argued that Tanden, of South Asian descent, was one of many candidates of color treated differently from candidates of the Trump era who launched personal attacks or expressed sectarian opinions.
“We may disagree with his tweets, but in the past, the Trump nominees they confirmed and supported had much more serious issues and conflicts than just something that was written on Twitter,” the representative said. Grace Meng (DN.Y.). in an interview after tweeting in frustration on the reluctance reported by Manchin regarding certain appointments. “It’s not about a single candidate like Neera, or anybody else, it’s about this pattern that is happening and increasingly hard to ignore.”
A long-time member of Democratic politics, Tanden has become a disproportionate figure online in recent years as she led sharp, personal and often sweeping Twitter criticisms against opponents left and right, including sitting senators. . Because of this, his appointment to the OMB came with obvious risks, even as Democrats took control of the Senate.
His supporters now say his social media presence is used as cover by his opponents, noting that she apologized, deleted and took possession of his tweets. And Democrats say that after the Trump years, there is little justification for someone’s online behavior to serve as a disqualifier. They not only point to the former president’s acerbic presence on social media and repeated attacks on lawmakers of color, but also the conduct of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court. confirmation hearing and the confirmation of former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general decades after losing an offer for a federal judge post on charges of racism.
Kavanaugh “went mad at the senators’ hearing,” said Ilyse Hogue, outgoing abortion rights group chairman NARAL Pro-Choice America. “They say Neera cannot be confirmed because of the tone of her tweets. It sounds mind-boggling to me and certainly a different standard in how they expect women to speak out compared to the men they voted for.
It’s not just the appointment of Tanden that surfaces complaints of sexism and racial prejudice. White House officials and those who served in the transition note that several of Biden’s candidates of color have seen their Senate appointments slow or have already faced relatively harsher criticism than white men for positions. of management.
Republicans are now harshly pushing back former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra over Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, citing his views on expanding access to health care and abortion to unauthorized immigrants. They also claim 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 Health Secretary, Alex Azar was not a doctor.
Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed in a widely online vote earlier this month. The first Latino and immigrant to hold his post, Mayorkas had already been confirmed by the Senate three times. But his confirmation of that round was by the slimmest of all margins for Biden’s nominees to date.
Home Secretary Deb Haaland’s candidate may soon face even greater opposition. Republicans accused the so-called first Native American to lead the department of being “radical,” underscoring her support for progressive environmental policies and her opposition to new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands. Manchin, who is leading Haaland’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, said he remains undecided on his appointment as well as the others – an indecision that drew a sharp rebuke and a suggestion of bias from Representative Alexandria Ocasio -Cort (DN.Y.).
Manchin’s office declined to comment. But in an interview earlier today, he noted that he spoke to Tanden on Monday and would always oppose her.
“I’m all about bipartisanship. I really am. I told him: it’s not personal at all,” Manchin said. “There is a time for bipartisanship to begin. We will see what happens on the other side.”
Derrick Johnson, chairman of civil rights group NAACP, said as candidates approach their confirmation vote, it would become apparent that those people who are women or people of color are given a level of scrutiny. different.
“I hope we will correct the course, quickly, and not allow this to be a Senate legacy,” Johnson added.
Democrats fear more candidates of color will run into trouble soon, including civil rights lawyer Kristen Clarke, a candidate for deputy attorney general in the DOJ’s civil rights division, and Vanita Gupta, the candidate of Biden as associate attorney general. Gupta was the subject of an advertising campaign recently launched by conservative groups, which accused it of wanting to “get the convicts out of jail” and “reduce the sentences imposed on white supremacists”. The other target of the group was Becerra. A third ad they ran accused the Biden administration of hosting black money.
“Vanita Gupta wants to dismantle the police, and instead of dealing with this extremely dangerous position, her liberal supporters are making cartoonish claims to avoid problems,” said Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, one of the groups. sponsoring the ads. Gupta did not call for withdrawing police funding.
Janet Murguía, president and chief executive of Latin American defense organization UnidosUS, said she had a call with her team on Monday morning when the issue of Biden’s cabinet picks hitting roadblocks sparked a prolonged conversation and growing alarm.
“It has been incredibly disturbing to see a pattern or trend emerging where people of color and women seem to be at the bottom of the list in terms of audiences and getting their confirmations finalized,” Murguía said in an interview. “It is very offensive to see this pied-à-terre continue when we have an incredible need to put in place these different leaders in these different agencies.”
“Blocking these nominations, regardless of party, is not a good idea and it raises a lot of questions about why,” she added.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) asked the same question Monday, citing Tanden, Haaland and Becerra as nominees “subject to further consideration.”
“There seems to be a pattern here,” Hirono said. She added that if Tanden’s appointment were to fall, Biden’s candidate for US trade representative Katherine Tai would be the “only Asian woman in the cabinet.”
“And nobody knows who [the] sales representative is, ”she said.
Burgess Everett and Meridith McGraw contributed reporting.