Neera Tanden confirmation seems unlikely after moderate Republicans oppose her

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Ed Pilkington in New York
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<span>Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/AP</span>
Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/AP

Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, seemed unlikely to be confirmed as budget director in the Biden administration after Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, two moderate Republican senators, said they would not vote in her favour.

Related: Trump to tell CPAC he is Republican 'presumptive 2024 nominee' – report

In a statement on Monday, Collins said Tanden was unfit to run the Office of Management and Budget, which plays a powerful role in overseeing federal finances and regulation.

“Neera Tanden has neither the experience nor the temperament to lead this critical agency,” the Maine senator said.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, backed Tanden, who she said was “an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent budget director”.

“We look forward to the committee votes this week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” Psaki said.

But then a spokesperson for Romney said the Utah senator would not back Tanden. Romney had been “critical of extreme rhetoric from prior nominees”, the spokesperson said, “and this is consistent with that position. He believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.”

Such a position might seem paradoxical for a party that just endured four years of Donald Trump’s offensive and intemperate tweets. But much of the Republican attack on Tanden, who has strong links to Hillary Clinton, has focused on her social media record.

Collins noted Tanden’s decision quietly to delete more than 1,000 tweets in the days after the election. Several of the tweets attacked Republican members of Congress, including Collins, whom Tanden described as “the worst”. Collins said the deletion of the tweets “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency”.

Collins and Romney’s opposition delivered a blow to Joe Biden as he struggles to fill his cabinet. Several other key nominations are lining up for confirmation in the Senate but Collins made her move just three days after the Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, said he would vote against Tanden.

Related: Merrick Garland vows to target white supremacists as attorney general

With the Senate split 50-50, Manchin’s defection meant the administration already needed to persuade at least one moderate Republican to come on board. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a possible vote for Tanden, has not yet indicated her intention.

The White House is on tenterhooks with its efforts to fill cabinet posts. On Monday one of the most critical positions – that of attorney general, the country’s top prosecutor – went before the Senate judiciary committee.

It was an especially poignant moment for the nominee, Merrick Garland, who five years ago was denied a confirmation hearing for a seat on the supreme court by the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell.

Beyond Garland, Deb Haaland is up for confirmation hearings as interior secretary and Xavier Becerra as health and human services secretary.