Politics

Elizabeth Warren voices support for Bedford native Neera Tanden’s nomination to run Biden’s budget office

Republicans — and some on the left — have criticized Tanden's nomination, but Warren plans to vote for the "smart, experienced, and qualified" pick.

Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference last year in Beverly Hills, California. Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg

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Neera Tanden could face stiff Republican opposition to her nomination to join President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet.

However, the Bedford native at least has one of the left’s most influential voices on her side.

A spokesperson for Sen. Elizabeth Warren confirmed Monday afternoon that the Massachusetts Democrat plans to vote to confirm Tanden, who Biden nominated earlier in the day to be his administration’s Office of Management and Budget director.

The 50-year-old president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, grew up in Bedford and has credited the Boston suburb’s public schools for her professional success. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to run OMB.

However, top Republicans are hinting they will vote to block Tanden’s nomination in the Senate, which will be controlled by the GOP unless Democrats sweep two Georgia runoff elections in January.

Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, tweeted Sunday that Tanden has an “endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators’ whose votes she’ll need” and “stands zero chance of being confirmed.” Some observers on social media noted Sunday that Tanden appears to have recently deleted numerous tweets, including several criticizing Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican. Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, referred to Tanden as a “sacrifice to the confirmation gods.”

The early indications of opposition elicited a response from Warren and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a fellow progressive populist, who called Tanden “smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director.”

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“The American people decisively voted for change – Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve,” Brown tweeted Monday.

Warren added, simply: “I agree.”

Biden’s transition team credited Tanden for her career “pursuing policies designed to support working families, foster broad-based economic growth, and curb rampant inequality” dating back to her days working for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’s presidential campaign and President Bill Clinton’s administration.

However, as a longtime friend and ally to Hillary Clinton, Tanden has also frequently clashedmostly on Twitter — with Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters. And the news of her nomination immediately elicited criticism from several former Sanders staffers focusing on her past support of a policy effectively cutting Social Security, though the Vermont senator himself has remained silent.

Other left-leaning economists have praised Tanden’s nomination, along with the rest of Biden’s economic team. In tweet Monday afternoon, Tanden expressed support for securing social safety net programs — which her family relied upon during her early years in Massachusetts — in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After my parents were divorced when I was young, my mother relied on public food and housing programs to get by,” she wrote. “Now, I’m being nominated to help ensure those programs are secure, and ensure families like mine can live with dignity. I am beyond honored.”

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