(Bloomberg) -- The White House is still fighting to win confirmation for President Joe Biden’s nominee as budget director, Neera Tanden, eyeing a handful of Republicans who haven’t said how they’ll vote on her, while a prominent Democratic aide, Shalanda Young, has emerged as a leading alternative for the job.
Young is a former appropriations aide to House Democrats who was lined up to be Tanden’s deputy at the Office of Management and Budget. Gene Sperling, former director of the National Economic Council under both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, is also under consideration should Tanden’s nomination fail, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The possibility that Tanden would win confirmation, already precarious, narrowed further on Tuesday. Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia plans to vote against the budget nominee, according to her spokeswoman, Kelley Moore.
Capito joins several Republicans considered persuadable, including Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Susan Collins who, along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, have publicly said they would not support Tanden over “mean tweets,” in the words of a Romney spokesman. Still, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski said late Monday that she was undecided and, as of then, had not spoken to the White House about her vote.
Before she was nominated for OMB director, the Center for American Progress leader maintained a pugnacious Twitter account where she lambasted and sparred with political adversaries, sometimes using derisive nicknames, like “Moscow Mitch” for Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
She would be the first woman of color and first American of South Asian descent to hold the White House budget director job. But she is the first Biden cabinet nominee who didn’t enjoy the full support of Senate Democrats.
Before her nomination, Tanden deleted more than 1,000 of her tweets -- a move that has led to GOP allegations she may not be fully transparent as a White House official. She promised to take a radically different approach to communicating if confirmed during one of her Senate hearings.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain remains committed to fighting for Tanden, according to two people familiar with the process, but Biden aides are also now considering Young and Sperling as the primary backup choices.
The race to save Tanden’s nomination kicked off in earnest on Friday when Manchin said he would not support her confirmation.
Young would bring to the job the support of Democratic House lawmakers, who have praised her 14-year tenure on the House Appropriations Committee. As a Black woman, she would also help Biden keep to his stated commitment to seek diversity within his cabinet.
Sperling would bring to the job extensive experience in both the federal government and economic policy making, having served as the head of National Economic Council under both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Sperling also served as counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner during the Obama administration and was heavily involved in the development of Obama’s roughly $800 billion stimulus package in 2009 as well as the auto bailout.
A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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