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White House adviser Neera Tanden named Biden staff secretary

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WASHINGTON – Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's one-time pick to lead the budget office, has been named White House staff secretary, a critical role responsible for what documents reach the president's desk, according to a White House official.

Tanden, who was forced to withdraw her nomination to lead of the Office of Management and Budget in March, has been serving as a senior adviser to the president and working on communications around Biden's economic agenda. She also worked on the White House response to the Supreme Court review of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration's signature health care legislation.

As staff secretary, often referred to as the "nerve center" of the White House, Tanden is tasked with determining which documents – ranging from memos and drafts of speeches to correspondence and executive orders – and when reach Biden's desk.

The position, a discreet but powerful role in the West Wing, has been held by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who served under former President George W. Bush, and John Podesta, a mentor to Tanden and a top aide to President Barack Obama, who held the role during the Clinton administration.

Tanden will retain her role as senior adviser, providing counsel to Biden on a wide range of issues, and will report to chief of staff Ron Klain, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the details of her role before an official announcement.

The move was first reported by the Washington Post.

More: Why Biden is standing firm on budget pick Neera Tanden despite pushback from left and right

More: 'Radioactive'? Neera Tanden, Biden's pick for budget chief, tries to win over critics on left and right

Tanden will replace Jessica Hertz, a former Obama administration official who also served as an attorney at Facebook. Hertz, whose departure was first reported by Politico last week, was highly regarded and a well-liked member of the team, according to the White House official. Hertz's last day will be Friday and Tanden will start her new role Monday, the official said.

Before joining the administration in May, Tanden led the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress for a decade, during which she gained a reputation as a partisan warrior who frequently targeted Republican lawmakers on Twitter and feuded with progressives including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The seasoned Democratic operative gained an outpouring of support for her nomination as OMB director from outside groups, including the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor groups, but her trail of abrasive tweets targeted at members of both parties may have torpedoed her confirmation.

As OMB director, Tanden would have become the first woman of color and first South Asian person to lead the powerful executive office and had an outsized role in shaping the Biden's administration's domestic policy.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Neera Tanden named Joe Biden's White House staff secretary

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