House Democratic leaders are quietly mounting a campaign for Shalanda Young, a longtime congressional aide, to replace Neera Tanden as nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
Why it matters: The nascent campaign for Young, who would be OMB’s first Black female leader, reflects a stark reality taking hold in the Democratic Party: Tanden’s prospects are rapidly fading.
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Young is a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee.
“Ms. Young is a proven budget expert and is well qualified for the job,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Driving the news: Tanden’s candidacy suffered a further setback Monday when Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah announced their opposition.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another potential Republican yes vote, has also signaled to supporters she’s unlikely to back Tanden.
In the 50-50 Senate, Tanden would need at least one Republican to support her nomination after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Friday he would oppose her candidacy.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki publicly stood by Tanden on Monday. “She has a record of working with members of both parties, views from both parties and we have no doubt she’d do that as budget director,” Psaki told reporters.
The intrigue: Young, who is currently waiting for a confirmation hearing in the Senate to be deputy OMB director, may still face competition from Gene Sperling, who has the distinction of twice leading the National Economic Council.
Sperling — along with Bruce Reed, now the White House deputy chief of staff — was considered to lead OMB during the transition. Both were passed over in favor of Tanden, who would be the first woman of color to hold the post.
While Sperling has many allies inside the White House, the push for diversity — and the desire to rack up “firsts” — is still important to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Among Biden’s top economic advisers and nominees, six are women and four of them are women of color.
Progressives, nonetheless, are mounting a public campaign for Sperling, with Dean Baker, the director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, vouching for his credentials.
“While I would not have wanted the Gene Sperling of 25 years ago to hold a top position in the Biden administration, I think the Gene Sperling of today would be an outstanding pick as head of OMB,” Baker wrote in The American Prospect.
Go deeper: House Democratic leaders are prepared to push for Young, who also has support from some prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had some success in convincing Biden to select at least one congressional aide for his Cabinet, including Katherine Tai for U.S. trade representative.
“While I am hopeful for Ms. Tanden’s nomination, I cannot say enough good things about Ms. Young,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “She is widely respected by members on both sides of the aisle for her expertise.”
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