Tweeting problem: Cloud over Neera Tanden’s confirmation


Neera Tanden

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus express concern that there will be insufficient Asian American representation in top-tier spots: WaPo report.

Our Bureau
New York

Of Biden’s Cabinet-level picks so far, only one is of Asian American descent: Neera Tanden, whose parents immigrated from India. She was chosen to serve as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.When Tanden’s nomination was announced, CAPAC’s chair, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said she was thrilled, praising Tanden as a “strong, experienced leader” and noting that if confirmed, she would be the first woman of color to lead the OMB, a critical agency that helps shape administration priorities.

But Tanden, who heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, has already been criticized as too partisan by several Republican senators, according to a report in Washington Post. and Chu and others worry privately that she will be treated as a “sacrificial lamb” who may not be confirmed. Tanden’s nomination will be especially precarious if Democrats do not win both Senate seats in Georgia’s Jan. 5 special election, leaving Republicans in control of the Senate.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that Neera Tanden — a former Clinton campaign aide, president of the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress and a prolific Twitter user –had repeatedly slammed Republican politicians on her personal Twitter account. While many of her tweets expressed sentiments common to partisan Democratic operatives, some Republicans have signaled that the tweets are a vulnerability for Tanden’s confirmation.

In the days after the election, Tanden quietly began to delete more than 1,000 tweets from her personal account, some of which were reviewed by CNN.In one deleted tweet from December 2017, Tanden said, “The Republican party is gleefully supporting an alleged child molester. And everyone who gives money to the RNC is doing the same,” referring to the GOP’s support of Senate candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama special election. Several women accused Moore of molesting and sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers while Moore was in his 30s, accusations he repeatedly denied.

In a related development, influential Senator John Cornyn, who is also co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, described Tanden as the worst nominee of Biden so far and said: “I think in light of her combative and insulting comments about many members of the Senate, mainly on our side of the aisle, that it creates certainly a problematic path to confirmation.”

In an interaction with reporters, Cornyn said that Tanden “deleted a lot of her previous tweets in the last couple of weeks which seems pretty juvenile, as if people won’t have access to it.”

“I’m a little surprised that he would do that and not even consult with any Republicans. Some of this can be avoided with a little bit of a heads up and consultation,” Cornyn said.

Tanden, who has 313,400 followers on Twitter, where she is quite active, had been very critical of the Republican senators and President Donald Trump in the past.In one of her tweets, Tanden had referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Moscow Mitch.” She is reported to have deleted many of her tweets that were critical of Republican Senators.

Republican Whip Senator John Thune alleged that Tanden has been pretty partisan in some of her previous positions and in many cases with respect to Republican senators who have to vote on her potential nomination.Senator Rick Scott from Florida alleged that Tanden is a big-government, big-spending radical liberal who’s a terrible choice for OMB Director.“It’s just more proof that Biden and the Democrats will continue to move further and further to the Left,” he said.

However, a few top Democratic senators also appreciated her nomination.Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, alleged that the Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain their reflexive opposition to these outstanding selections.“Neera Tanden, who would be the first woman of color to ever run the Office of Management and Budget, is so eminently qualified that some on the Republican side—grasping at straws—have taken issue with comments made on twitter criticizing the policy positions of Republicans in Congress,” Schumer, a Democrat, said.

“Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump, who has made a hobby out of denigrating Republican Senators on twitter. I fully expect to see some crocodile tears spilled on the other side of the aisle over the President-elect’s cabinet nominees. But it will be very tough to take those crocodile tears seriously,” Schumer said.

House Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer said that he has worked closely with Tanden for a number of years.“I know that she will be a tremendous asset to President-elect Biden as he works with Congress to invest in a stronger economy for all Americans,” the Democratic Party leader said.

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