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Team Biden appeals to Asian American groups to help save Tanden

The groups focus on three senators who have yet to declare their intentions: Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), member of the Budget Committee; Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a moderate who sometimes breaks with her party; and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who sits on the Homeland Security Committee.

They also reach out to two senators from afar, hoping to change their mind: Manchin and John Cornyn (R-Texas), who co-founded the Senate India Caucus, but this week called on Biden to withdraw Tanden’s nomination.

In addition to contacting Senate offices, groups have flooded social media using hashtags, such as #IStandWithNeera. A #OUINeera campaign that used the words “Yes for progress Yes for women Yes for AAPI” have reached more than 77.2 million people, according to the AAPI Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to engage voters of Native Americans Asian and Pacific Islands.

The groups push comes as two Senate committees postponed votes on Tanden’s fate to Wednesday. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Who chairs one of these committees, admitted that the support was not yet there to confirm Tanden.

If Tanden were to go through committees, his appointment would still have to go through the full Senate. And Manchin’s opposition means she would need at least one Republican to back her up to make that happen. But the senses. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, both moderate Republicans, have also said they will oppose Tanden’s nomination.

“She is held to a much higher standard, although no one disputes her background and qualifications to be director of OMB,” said Shekar Narasimhan, chair of the AAPI Victory Fund. “It’s becoming evident that this higher standard applies mostly to nominees of color, and it especially hurts with historic nominations like Neera’s.”

The White House insisted it still publicly supports Tanden, although some Democrats on Capitol Hill have already started supporting a possible replacement: Shalanda Young, the former clerk and chief of staff of the House Appropriations Committee. .

But on Wednesday night, even Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Tanden’s No.1 White House champion, acknowledged the reality of his plight.

“If Neera Tanden is not confirmed she will not become the budget manager, we will find another place for her to serve in the administration that does not require confirmation from the Senate,” Klain said on MSNBC.

The White House has returned questions about the push by Asian Americans to the presidential transition. A transition official acknowledged the effort, saying it had been underway since December.

Asian Americans have been ranting for weeks that Biden has failed to appoint an Asian American or Pacific Islander Cabinet secretary, despite having selected two for Cabinet-level positions: Tanden , chairman of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress; and Katherine Tai, trade representative for the United States. Asian Americans have served in presidential offices, including that of Donald Trump, since 2000.

“We would like to see progress by having a seat at the table,” said Madalene Mielke, president and CEO of the American Institute of Asian and Pacific Congressional Studies. “Cabinet level appointments are important and at the same time, in the words of over 100 members of Congress, almost equal is not equal.”

Yet after Biden named Tanden, Asian Americans began to push for her confirmation and even urged Vice President Kamala Harris, herself the daughter of an Indian mother, to try to persuade her elders. colleagues in the Senate to support it.

Albert Shen, president of the Texas chapter of the Asian American Action Fund, called Tanden’s selection “a direct rebuke to the past four years of Trump’s seamless Make America Great Again political agenda.”

A network of prominent Indian Americans with personal connections to Republican senators began contacting lawmakers in December, urging them to meet Tanden and give him a chance, according to a person familiar with the situation. “We’re trying to get her in the door,” the person said. “All we’re saying is take a call, give it a fair hearing.”

A group of more than 50 Asian American companies sent Cornyn a letter in early February urging him to support Tanden, citing hate crimes against Asian Americans following the demonization of China by former President Donald Trumps during the coronavirus pandemic.

Neil Makhija, executive director of IMPACT, an Indo-American advocacy group, said his organization had worked with the presidential transition to arrange a meeting with Tanden after his appointment to ask how she could help him. This week, IMPACT is drafting a letter to send to the heads of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Budget committees touting the possibility of Tanden becoming the first woman of color and the first South Asian budget chief.

“Despite taking historic milestones at the highest levels of our government, Ms. Tanden has never forgotten where she came from: a South Asian immigrant family who relied on this country’s social safety net to survive. According to a copy of the draft letter. “From a childhood of food stamps and Section 8 housing to public service in President Joseph R. Biden’s office, Neera Tanden has lived through this country’s full arc of promise.

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