Minutes after Neera Tanden withdrew her bid to become White House budget chief, House Democratic leaders sprang into action to push President Joe Biden to pick their preferred replacement.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn issued a unique joint statement on Wednesday backing Shalanda Young to lead the Office of Management and Budget, along with endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus and House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). But they have for months been running a more hushed campaign for Young’s selection.
The trio of House leaders was huddling to discuss another issue Tuesday when they learned of Tanden’s move and immediately tried calling Biden and top White House aide Steve Ricchetti to encourage the president to elevate Young, who has already been nominated to be deputy director at OMB. After an initial missed connection, Pelosi talked to Biden on the phone about backing Young, according to a source familiar with the call.
Their support for Young to clinch the top job dates back to before Biden divulged in November that he would nominate Tanden. The top Democrats’ public endorsement this week before the White House has even announced a replacement is unusual, however, and was done to further increase pressure on Biden’s team to pick Young, according to aides with knowledge of the decision.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden is not expected to announce a new nominee for the OMB director post this week.
Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn said in their statement of support that Young’s selection would be "historic and would send a strong message that this Administration is eager to work in close coordination with Members of Congress to craft budgets that meet the challenges of our time and can secure broad, bipartisan support.”
“We have worked closely with her for several years and highly recommend her for her intellect, her deep expertise on the federal budget and her determination to ensure that our budget reflects our values as a nation," the three top Democrats said of Young, who was a House Appropriations Committee aide for 14 years, most recently serving as clerk and staff director.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Tanden noted that it was clear she lacked the Senate support needed for confirmation after at least one moderate Democrat opposed her nomination over her record of criticizing both Republicans and progressives on social media. Biden said Tanden will still serve a role in his administration but did not specify the position.
The Democratic leaders said Tanden is "an outstanding public servant who has dedicated decades to fighting to advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.”
“We know that she will continue to bring her progressive values, bold vision for the future and valuable perspective to Democrats’ work to Build Back Better," the House Democrats said of Tanden, the CEO and president of the liberal Center for American Progress.
While expressing disappointment that Tanden’s nomination was withdrawn, DeLauro released her own statement "unreservedly" recommending Young to be nominated for OMB director in Tanden’s stead.
"She has deep knowledge of the whole of the federal government and an ability to work with anyone to accomplish big, important things for our country," DeLauro said of Young. "While she has served as a Democratic staffer, her dedication to results has earned her respect across the aisle."
The Congressional Black Caucus wrote to Biden on Tuesday reiterating that the group’s leaders “unequivocally” endorse Young for the director position and noting that the nominee has already received “excellent reviews from both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate” in her vetting for the deputy post.
Indeed, lawmakers in both parties praised Young on Tuesday during her first confirmation hearing to be deputy director. She is still expected to appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday for her second vetting, a committee aide confirmed.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel, has already said he would support Young if Biden were to nominate her for the director post. Other Republicans agreed on Tuesday.
“You’ll get my support, maybe for both jobs,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Young during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee.
“Everybody who deals with you on our side has nothing but good things to say," said Graham, ranking Republican on the Budget panel. "You might talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it.”
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.